The 2013 MLB draft begins on Thursday, June 6, with the San Francisco Giants looking to duplicate their past success of landing such savvy draft picks at Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to name a few.
What about the superstars still waiting in the wings? As the Giants faithful eagerly await the draft, they are left to ponder the fates of previous highly touted San Francisco draft picks.
Here are some predictions for past Giants' first-round picks who have yet to break into the majors.
Drafted out of perennial baseball powerhouse Cal-State Fullerton, Gary Brown was pegged for his offensive prowess. So far in the minors, he has not disappointed as he is the Giants' second-best overall prospect, according to MLB.com.
Brown has put together an impressive .287 batting average over his four seasons in the Giants' farm system. His slugging percentage also sits at an impressive .424. The only caveat is that Brown's best season came in 2011, when he was named California Rookie of the Year and played in the All-Star Futures Game.
Brown's biggest obstacle in making his MLB debut rests with Angel Pagan. Both Pagan and Brown occupy center field, which is ideally suited for the speedy Brown. With left field still largely up in the air for the long term (with Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres platooning there admirably in the meantime), look for Brown to possibly shift outfield positions—as long as he can get his offensive numbers up as he progresses through the minors.
It all depends on whether Brown can make the necessary adjustments in Triple-A and if he can improve his base-running IQ.
The Giants opted to draft shortstop Joe Panik out of St. John's University and right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick out of Sherman High School.
With the Giants' starting rotation treading water in 2013, many look to Crick as a possible answer. However, Crick has another year or so in the minors before he can be considered ready for the majors.
The worst thing the Giants organization can do would be to promote Crick before he has time to develop, as Chris Haft of MLB.com writes:
The organization's top pitching prospects, such as Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick and Chris Stratton, are at Class A and need much more minor league seasoning.
Look for Crick to remain in the minors for the foreseeable future as fellow minor league ace Clayton Blackburn gives him a run for his money. Giants general manager Brian Sabean will also hold onto the talented prospect, after thinning the depth of the farm system by trading pitcher Zack Wheeler to the Mets last offseason.
Shortstop Joe Panik resembles a younger Marco Scutaro. Both rarely strike out and rarely swing and miss altogether. Although he currently plays shortstop, look for Panik to slide over to the second base spot as Scutaro's years begin to show at the tail-end of the veteran's three-year contract with the Giants.
Brown and Panik both have the potential to break into the big leagues, as the Giants look to add younger, fresher legs to their roster.
Another right-handed pitcher waiting in the wings is 2012 draft pick Chris Stratton.
Andrew Baggarly, of BaseballAmerica.com, lauded Stratton's tools on the mound:
San Francisco scouting director John Barr was on hand when Stratton struck out 17 against Louisiana State, showing size, athleticism and feel for four pitches. He pitches to both sides of the plate with a 91-93 mph fastball that touches 95 and has easy, late carry. He has a short slider that he can throw for strikes or use as a chase pitch. Stratton worked more on his changeup after signing and was told he could throw it to right-handers. His body, delivery, stuff and savvy remind longtime Giants coaches of former first-round pick Kurt Ainsworth.
Stratton is poised to become a solid No. 2 starter once he gets some professional experience under his belt.
The future is bright for these former San Francisco first-rounders, as none appear to have faded or buckled under the pressure of succeeding at a professional level. The Giants have some real quality pitchers who, although green, could eventually develop into top-tier rotation guys.
San Francisco's top prospects could also potentially fill gaps in the field that could widen in the coming years.
The Giants' next first-round draft pick, as well as their selections in the later rounds, will have plenty of competition in the San Francisco farm system.
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