All the mock drafts I saw had the Giants taking a high school pitcher or outfielder with the 29th pick of the 2011 MLB Draft. Shows what they know.
The Giants surprised a lot of people by taking St. John’s University SS Joe Panik with their 1st round pick. MLB.com doesn’t even have him listed in their top 50 prospects.
Even so, it looks like a good pick, at least insofar as Panik’s bat is concerned. In three years as a starter at St. John’s, Panik has posted OPS numbers of .939, 1.098, and 1.151. That’s just fine for a middle infielder.
Last year in the Cape Cod summer league, where top college players compete against each other using wooden bats, Panik hit .276, which was good enough for 12th best in a pitcher’s league. He also posted an excellent .384 OBP and was a perfect 11 for 11 in stolen base attempts.
mlbdraftguide.com says Panik has good range and soft hands, but that his arm is average, so he may end up at 2B. However, he played 3B, as well as SS, in the Cape Cod League, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Aside from surprising the pundits, Panik’s also something of a surprise pick in terms of what the Giants usually look for it position players. The Giants like toolsy guys, as opposed to guys who really seem to know how to play the game. Charlie Culberson, who the Giants took with the 51st pick of the 2007 Draft is a good example. So too Fred Lewis (66th pick in 2002), Todd Linden (41st pick in 2001) and Jarrett Parker (74th last year).
However, toolsy guys are often free-swingers who run into a wall at some time between arriving at AA ball and the majors if they can’t learn how to lay pitches out of the strike zone and work the count. A lot of them never do it. I have my doubts about Charlie Culberson for that reason.
Panik, though, looks like a guy who knows how to get on base and doesn’t make a lot of extra outs. Needless to say, we’ll see what happens once he hits professional baseball.