To many Giants fans, this draft might as well have been one pick long. Everything that they cared about, everything that had been talked about, was about the Giants first Top 10 pick since the 1997 draft. Giants fans were dreading a low ceiling ‘safe’ pick that was cheap. Certain national writers were predicting a pre-draft deal.
At the end of the day, however, the Giants simply got the best player available.
That’s not to say that first round pick Tim Lincecum is a sure thing. There are concerns about his workload, and his eventual role in the majors. But few people disagreed that Lincecum was one of the best pitchers in the draft, had some of the best stuff of the draft, or that he projected well to the majors. The results? Giants fans got a legitimate top prospect that was not in any way a safe or cheap pick, and every major writer gave the Giants high marks for the pick.
Let’s face it, when you get a guy that many people were legitimately discussing to go at #1 overall with the #10 pick, it’s a good thing.
But the draft isn’t one round, it’s 50. And the true value of a draft isn’t just in the top pick, but if you can find value in the later rounds.
The Giants seemed to do a solid job of that, as well. Another big pick was their first sandwich round pick, and for that they tabbed Kent State’s Emmanuel Burriss. Burriss isn’t the power hitter many Giant fans wanted, but he fits a theme that has been emerging for Giant picks the last few years: he’s fast. He had the fifth most stolen bases in the country. A lot of fans might see similarities to current prospect Marcus Sanders, and they wouldn’t be very wrong. But with Sanders struggling in San Jose, some redundancy in the system might not be a bad thing. Also, like Sanders, some think Burriss might go to second base eventually.
Quick players were a recurring theme among position players in theis draft. The Giants drafted 4 shortstops on the first day alone, along with a couple of center fielders, and more came on day 2. This fits a trend that has been growing since CF Marcus Sanders was picked up in 2003 draft as a draft and follow. The Giants picked up the speedy Clay Timpner in the 4th round of 2004, and made their top pick in 2005 the quick Ben Copeland, and followed that up with two more fast center fielders, Joey Dyche and Antoan Richardson.
This might indicate that in the future at AT&T Park, Brian Sabean envisions a team with fast, versatile players that can cover the deep corners in the outfield and cause havoc in the infield.
Ben Snyder, a LHP taken in the 4th round, was another savvy pick. The left hander doesn’t have velocity, but he’s got 4 very advanced pitches and can throw good innings. He didn’t have the best year at Ball State, but he’s a lefty in the mold of Kirk Rueter, and could move through the system quickly.
The Giants also picked a couple of center fielders who might have futures on the mound. 5th rounder Michael McBryde and 37th rounder Lance Salsgiver were both fast center fielders that seem to fit that new Giant draft mold of speed. But both had very good years as pitchers, with McBryde serving as Florida Atlantic University’s closer and Salsgiver as a starter with Harvard. McBryde in particular was looked at as a player who would be more likely to end up on the mound.
One other theme was the selection of several college relievers with high upside. Eric Stolts had a rough year as closer at the University of the Pacific, but he fits Dick Tidrow’s ideal of workable power arms that can work with the Giants minor league coaching staff (including MLB Career Saves leader Lee Smith) to refine his stuff.
Perhaps the biggest wild card in this draft class is third rounder Clayton Tanner. Tanner wasn’t very well known before the draft, and other than some basic stats, little has been talked about since. But the De La Salle Senior is reported to have some excellent stuff, and if the Giants can sign him away from his commitment to Pepperdine, the Giants may have found another local steal at the 3rd round.
A few more sleepers that could surprise from this draft class:
• LHP Paul Oseguera missed most of his UCLA career with injuries, but pitched his first full season in 2006 and dominated in one of the toughest baseball conferences in the nation. Left handed relievers might not excite many people, but Oseguera has the stuff to move quickly and be very effective.
• LHP Paul Ryan is stepping up as closer at CSU Fullerton for the NCAA Tournament after doing well as their primary setup man all year long. Again, lefty relievers don’t excite much, but few Giants fans will disagree that having young pitchers to fill out a bullpen is nice to have.
• SS Brian Bohlinger actually played at third most of the time for the Oklahoma Sooners, and while he’s not a pure power threat, he’s displayed the leadership and all-around play that is becoming more in vogue with the hot corner these days.
• 27th rounder Sean VanElderan may have played for a Division-II school in Mesa State, but he still powered out 13 home runs in 154 at bats playing through a hand injury. The Giants have earned a reputation for finding power arms in unlikely places (such as 27th rounder Jonathan Sanchez or 24th rounder Brian Wilson), but VanElderan might be an unlikely power hitter found in the late rounds.
• LHP Matt Fairel (32nd round) and RHP Ryan Butner (38th round) are both highly regarded high school players from Florida. Both are unlikely to be signed, but if one of them can be, the Giants will have found another steal.
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