As we enter the final day of the 2017 season, there’s one remaining storyline that has yet to play out for the San Francisco Giants. In what most had assumed would conclude with another playoff berth, things went completely haywire for the orange and black as they now find themselves at the opposite end of the spectrum. At 63-98 and 40 games behind the 1st place Dodgers, the Giants are 1 game ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the top overall pick in next year’s draft. If the Giants lose to the Padres today, they are locked in with the overall pick, however if the Giants win and Tigers lose, the Tigers would get the 1st overall pick as they own the tiebreaker for having a worse record last season.
Regardless as to however it plays out, the Giants will be in prime shape to find an impact player in a top-heavy draft who could either help both in the short and long-term. The draft is still 8 months away, but with summer leagues (including Cape Cod) now finished, and collegiate fall practices now underway, the picture of who could be in play for the Giants has becomes somewhat clearer. Obviously, there are significant factors in play, including poor performance or injury that could shake things up, but assuming that these prospects continue to perform as expected, here are eight players who I think the Giants will be targeting with one of the top 2 picks in next year’s draft.
In my opnion, Singer is the most complete pitcher in the draft. Fresh off leading Florida to a College World Series Championship, Singer will enter next season as the favorite to be the 1st overall pick. Singer matches a projectable 6’5”, 200 lbs frame with a 92-96mph fastball and wipeout slider. He would be a no-brainer for the Giants, assuming he performs well and stays healthy.
I believe that Beer will be all over the map when teams scout him. Some will fall in love with his power, while others will be concerned with his lack of speed or true defensive position. But the Giants need power hitters, and Beer is the best power bat in college baseball, meaning that he would be an excellent fit for the Giants regardless of the secondary concerns.
McClanahan is a redshirt sophomore who had Tommy John surgery in 2016. Despite being just a year removed, McClanahan struck out 104 batters in 74 innings with a fastball working in the mid 90s. At 6’1 and only 173lbs, there’s reason to believe that McClanahan is only scratching the surface of his abilities, making him one of the more intriguing prospects heading into the spring.
The son of former Major Leaguer Jeff Conine, erupted onto the prospect-scene following an outstanding summer in Cape Cod. Conine led the league in homeruns with 9, and was voted by scouts as the league’s Top Prospect. Conine is one of the more advanced college players, so the Giants would be getting in intelligent player with a proven pedigree, who could man right-field in AT&T Park sooner rather than later.
While Mize does come with some injury concerns, he’s about as polished as they come in college baseball. Mize saw his fastball jump from 90mph as a freshman to 96mph as a sophomore thanks to the 35 pounds of muscle he added in the off-season. Perhaps even more impressive than Mize’s velocity spike is his overall pitchtability. Mize combines his mid 90s fastball with a split-finger, curveball, and slider – all of which he throws for strikes. While pitching for Auburn last season, Mize held opposing hitters to a .210 batting average, and only walked 9 hitters in 83+ innings, while striking out 109.
Others to watch: Nick Madigal (Oregon State), Jeremy Eirman (Missouri State), Ryan Rolison (Ole Miss), Logan Gilbert (Stetson), Tristan Pompey (Kentucky), Travis Swaggerty (South Alabama), Joey Bart (Georgia Tech), Luken Baker (TCU)
Turang’s swing draws strong comparisons to Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, only Turang possess more bat speed, and plays an excellent shortstop. At only 160lbs, there’s significant room for growth and development, but his athleticism and arm-strength suggests that he projects as a true Major League shortstop with no true weakness.
Hankins has become somewhat of a social media sensation as more video of his surfaces. Hankins is 6’6”, and is regarded as the best of an excellent group of high school pitchers. In a recent outing in Tampa, Hankins’s fastball sat from 94mph-97mph, while showing excellent command both vertically and horizontally. According to Carlos Collazo of Baseball America, Hankins “recently added a slider to his arsenal, but didn’t use the pitch in this outing, as his fastball, curve and changeup were more than enough. He might not need the pitch at all in the future if his upper 70s curve continues to play like it did Thursday night in Tampa.”
Rocker and Hankins are neck-and-neck to be the 1st high school pitcher off the board in next year’s draft. Rocker is a massive 6’5”, 260lbs, and has been clocked with his fastball up to 98mph. Similar to Hunter Greene (#2 overall pick in this year’s draft), Rocker also excels with the bat, showing high upside and power projection as a fall-back if his future as a pitcher doesn’t pan out.
As of now, both Singer and Turang appear to be “can’t miss” prospects, so the Giants should have a talented group of players to choose from.
There’s no doubt that a 63-98 record is painful, but it’s failure to that magnitude that will ultimately help right the ship for the franchise. Best case scenario? The Giants are able to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, making them competitive in 2018 (which I discuss here) while the prospects from last year’s draft develop. Worst case scenario? The Giants have 1 more non-competitive year, are able to unload the contracts of Pence & Span, and can add a player the caliber of Turang or Singer to an exciting group of young players.
The Giants are not immune to the cycles of free agency, and by combining extreme success (3 World Championships) with sudden catastrophic failure, I believe the Giants have inadvertently done themselves a favor. They’ll be in a position to make tougher decisions (that they’ve refused to make in the past) based on long-term success, while at the same time, stock-piling young talent. The blueprint to winning since 2010 has been to combine impactful, veteran leadership (Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowand, Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell) with controllable young talent (Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner). The number 1 or 2 pick in next year’s draft will go a long way towards re-establishing that same winning culture in San Francisco.