San Francisco Giants: 2012 MLB Draft Outlook
The San Francisco Giants need to bolster the quality of their minor league talent through the 2012 MLB draft. After a great run that saw the Giants add impact players from within their system, such as Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum, the cupboard has largely gone dry.
Over the past year or two, the young players and call-ups have had far less success at the big league level. The one player the Giants believed was ready to make an impact was Brandon Belt, but he has struggled offensively.
At this point in the season, Belt has nearly 100 at-bats and is hitting a very soft .240. He has no home runs and generally has not hit the ball with authority. If he is going to be the Giants' first baseman of the future, he must provide more pop offensively.
Other players getting a lot of playing time, such as Brandon Crawford, Emmanuel Burriss and Brett Pill, also have not seized their opportunity like the Giants' brass had hoped. Still others, like Conor Gillaspie and Charlie Culberson, proved that they are not ready for the majors.
Only reserve catcher Hector Sanchez has met the expectations of the Giants and manager Bruce Boichy. Sanchez is hitting .284 with two home runs and 17 RBI, which is three more than Belt in 22 fewer at-bats.
On the pitching side, the Giants also have not brought anyone up who looks to be an impact arm. Reliever Steve Edlefsen has been decent, but others like Eric Surkamp and Eric Hacker are not ready. Surkamp's arm injury has pushed him down the list, as he is yet to pitch this season.
Flame-thrower Heath Hembree is working on developing his secondary pitches and could be a factor at some point this year. However, that is purely speculation.
The bottom line is the Giants have not developed enough major-league talent out of the minors in the past couple of seasons. It is critical for GM Brian Sabean to hit it big in this year's draft.
Developing quality big-league players through your minor-league system is essential for salary control. Free agents are extremely expensive, so a team like the Giants needs to have quality young players coming up, in order to maintain their budget.
In addition, recent No. 1 picks Gary Brown, Joe Panik and Kyle Crick are not having great success in the minors. It was hoped that Brown, who was the Giants' top pick in 2010, would be ready to step into a starting role in 2013. That looks a long way off, as he is hitting just .250 at the Double-A level.
The Giants have only one selection in the first round and no selections in the supplemental first round, so this pick needs to produce an impact quality player.
Let's take a look at five potential players the Giants might be targeting with their pick, which is the 20th overall.
First, let me say that I do not think the Giants will select a high school player this early, so I will focus on the college level. The ability of the Giants to be able to sign the draftee is another key factor when evaluating whether to select any given player.
Deven Marrero, Shortstop
Deven Marrero is a slick-fielding shortstop out of Arizona State. In 2011, he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
After hitting a cumulative .349 in his first two seasons at ASU, he is hitting .279 this year. Part of the dropoff can be attributed to adjusting to the new bats allowed in the college game. Marrero is a solid gap-to-gap hitter who should hit for a high average.
He has one year of eligibility remaining at the college level but could be ready to make the move to professional baseball.
I know the Giants already have Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik as two good young shortstop prospects. If Crawford develops into a better hitter, he could nail down the shortstop job, but that's a big if.
Panik could be moved to second base, where the Giants also lack quality prospects. It's always wise to have that good young player pushing these guys to improve, and that's where Marrero comes in.
Brian Johnson, Pitcher
Brian Johnson is a left handed pitcher from the University of Florida. His fastball tops out in the 91-93 mph range, and he has an above-average curve ball.
At 6'3" and 235 lbs., Johnson has the size resembling Giants' ace Matt Cain. As a junior, Johnson has started 15 games for the Gators this year, allowing 76 hits over 81 innings. What caught my eye was that he allowed only 15 walks, while striking out 64.
A strikeout-to-walk ratio of over 4:1 is extremely rare at the collegiate level. This shows Johnson's command and willingness to go after opposing hitters.
Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are the only two starting pitchers locked up to contracts beyond 2013. It would be wise for the Giants to stockpile some good young pitching talent right now, and Johnson definitely qualifies.
Mitch Haniger, Outfielder
Mitch Haniger is an outfielder with excellent all-around ability. He leads the Cal Poly offense in several categories, batting .346, with 13 home runs and 64 RBI. Haniger also has an OBP of .458 and OPS of 1.064, both outstanding numbers.
Haniger has good size, standing 6'2" and weighing in at 215 lbs.. As he matures, his power numbers should also increase. The junior is also a solid defensive player.
Haniger is a local kid, from Santa Clara, which is about 40 minutes south of San Francisco. He played his high school ball at Archbishop Mitty, in San Jose.
Chris Stratton, Pitcher
The San Francisco Giants have had better luck developing pitchers than position players. Chris Stratton is a top pitcher from Mississippi State.
Stratton has a good fastball in the mid 90s and also a good slider, curveball and changeup. He has good command of all four of his pitches.
This season, Stratton has made 11 starts, throwing one complete game and a shutout. In 102 innings, Stratton has allowed only 78 hits, while striking out 123 and walking only 21. His ERA of 2.21 and WHIP of 0.97 are outstanding.
Stratton is a big, strong right-handed pitcher, in much the same mold as Matt Cain. He stands 6'3" and weighs 200 lbs.. Stratton was named the 2012 SEC Pitcher of the Year.
Adam Brett Walker, First Baseman
The San Francisco Giants lack a slugging first baseman, and at 6'5", 225 lbs., Adam Brett Walker could be their man. He is a junior at Jacksonville and was named the 2012 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year.
Walker leads Jacksonville with a .343 batting average, in home runs with 12 and RBI with 42. He also has shown excellent speed with 19 stolen bases.
Walker has the potential to be an impact player and would be an excellent selection if he's available when the Giants pick at No. 20.
The Giants Need To Find Some Impact Players In This Draft
It is very important for the Giants to find and develop some impact players from the 2012 MLB draft. It has been two seasons since they have had an impact player join their lineup from the minors. Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were the last, in 2010.
The current outlook is that the top Giants' prospects are still in the lower levels of the minors. The players they have brought up have not seized their opportunity, and many have looked overmatched.
With only one pick in the first round and none in the supplemental first round, the Giants must not whiff on this selection.
It is essential for the Giants' salary control to find and develop some quality big-league talent from their minor-league system. This is the only way the Giants can perpetuate their success.