When the Giants drafted middle infielder Joe Panik with their first-round pick, a lot of Giants fans, including myself, didn't care for the choice.
Panik lacked that fountain of talent: that sort of sexy, infinite upside that fans and franchises like to dream on in the first round. Since then, especially as the saga of black hole-hitting middle infielders continues, I think I speak for most fans when I say we've really warmed up to the guy. After watching the first month of Giants' baseball, I find my attitude has shifted from "show me the talent" to "you had me at middle infielder."
While lacking any truly dominant tool or ability, Panik's game is pretty solid all around, with his best skill being an overall great approach at the plate. As Baseball America says, "scouts rave about Panik's disciplined, polished approach and strike-zone awareness." For a middle infielder, this is very exciting, as Giant's fans haven't seen a middle infielder who can hit since the Bonds era.
Since he was drafted, Panik has had three stints with three different teams in the Giants organization: 304 plate appearances in Salem-Keizer, where he hit .341/.401/.467 and made serious strides to endear himself to his new team; an All-Star worthy effort in the Arizona Fall League, in which he hit .323/.394/.473; a short 10-game look in spring training in which he hit .429.556/.714; and his current stint with the San Jose Giants, which is so far going quite coldly, as Panik is only hitting .221/.323/.291.
Still, cold starts aren't uncommon or terribly meaningful and there are good signs, despite the bad numbers. Namely, he's still walking more than he strikes out (13 vs. 10), which is always pretty impressive on its own.
Panik should settle in nicely and eventually become one of the best-hitting Giants' middle infielders in recent memory, most likely complimenting current and hopefully future shortstop Brandon Crawford from the other side of the infield.