With the Giants on a red hot streak lately, I almost forgot about today's upcoming MLB's Amateur Draft. I'm not as well versed with this class as I've been the last couple of drafts, mostly because the Giants aren't selecting at the top like they were before 2011, and because baseball's draft is the biggest crap-shot of all drafts in professional sports. So the chance of the Giants actually drafting one of these guys is very slim. I've only seen small amounts of some of the projected first rounders, either through video or in actual game play (for a few of the collegiate players that is), and I came up with a short list of five players who could be available for the Giants at 20.
RHP, Zach Eflin, HS, FLA:
Eflin is one of the higher touted prep
right handed starters in this draft, and really reminds me a lot of
another Zach the Giants drafted then dealt away last summer for Carlos
Beltran. Eflin has a quiet, compact motion but the ball explodes out of
his hand. He could go higher than 20, but if he falls there, the Giants
should jump. He's 6'5" and 200 pounds, and has a frame and motion very
similar to Giants' horse Matt Cain. The Giants have done terrific with
their first rounders when picking pitchers in recent drafts, and they
don't have the depth in the minors like they did 2-3 years ago. They've
got to where they are now by drafting pitching early, and they need to
continue that formula. Here's a short video
of him overpowering his competition last fall.
RHP, Chris Stratton, Miss. St.:
Stratton could also make a lot of
sense for the Giants as most believe he'll last into the 20's and could
be the best college arm available when the Giants choose. He's almost
like a right-handed version of Andrew Heaney, who I think would be a
great choice at 20 if he fell as well and we'll discuss in a moment. Stratton started as a reliever at
Mississippi St., but became a starter this year and quickly became the
team's ace. He's got a mid-90's fastball and three average to above-average
pitches to go with it, which if he refines, would give him four plus-out
pitches. The MSU ace had an 11-2 record and 2.21 ERA heading into the NCAA tournament that started a few days ago.
OF Victor Roache, Georgia Southern:
Roache presents an option
that the Giants haven't taken in a long, long time. A natural power
hitting outfielder who projects out to hit 25+ home runs per year at the
next level. His stock is sky rocketing though, and he could go as early
as 8-10, or as late as 25-30. The Giants have some good young hitters
in their system, but they don't have any outfielders with plus power,
and Roache may be their best bet for just that. He's also coming out a
Junior, so he's had some experience and should be ready to move through
the system. The only reason Roache isn't considered a sure-fire top-10 pick is because he hurt his wrist back in February. He really reminds me of the White Sox impressive rookie outfielder, Dayan Viceido. Here's a couple of videos
showing him in action.
RHP Ty Hensley, HS, OK:
Hensley isn't quite the overpowering arm
that some of the other high school players in this draft are, but I've seen
some of his work and the kid makes it look easy out there. I like Eflin a
lot, but wouldn't at all be opposed to Hensely if the Giants can't get Efrin. Both are prep arms that would likely take 3 years of
seasoning before being ready for big league duty, but both guys project
out to be #3 starters or better, and again, the Giants have had most
their success in recent drafts taking prep arms early. In a draft class rich with prep starters, Hensely and Efrin could represent the two most plausible and talented options for the Giants at pick 20, and if I were betting, I'd say they end up with one of them
LHP Andrew Heaney, Oklahoma St
.: There's a lot to like about Heaney. He's big, left-handed and sustains his sharpness deep into starts. He's not an overpowering thrower, but consistently in the 92-93 MPH range, and had a few other pitches he can get hitters out with. His stuff reminds me a bit of Madison Bumgarner's and he's got uncanny command as well. He could go before the Giants pick, but if he lasts, he'll be a tough guy to let slip by for a team in need of pitching prospects that they can fast-track to the big leagues.
Other Names to Keep An Eye On:
A few other guys to watch for, though are LHP Brian Johnson, Florida (MLB.com draft guru Jonthan Mayo believes he'll be the guy the Giants call at 20); 3B/OF Stephen Piscotty, Stanford (Very solid all-around hitter, but hasn't found his power stroke yet, and seems like a similar player the Giants drafted last year in Joe Panik) and 1B/3B Richie Shaffer, Clemson (very good all-around talent, with a strong bat and flexability to play multiple positions).
We'll be back a little later today wrapping up the Giants/Cubs series, and we'll likely have the Giants draft selection at that time as well, so be sure to check back later this evening!