Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Scouting the Draft: Thoughts on Day 1

So let me get this straight.  Bobby Evans was promoted to GM to free up Brian Sabean to spend more time in the field scouting players the Giants want other teams to think they are interested in, but aren't?  Nice job there, Sabes!  Leading up to draft day, the Giants were said to be in on multiple players including a multiple college and HS pitchers as well as a few HS hitters.  They ended up taking a JC pitchers nobody connected to them, a college hitter and and a college senior pitcher.  Not saying it was a bad draft.  In fact, I think it might turn out pretty darn good.  It's just not what I or I think anybody else expected, which is exactly what we expected!  So, let's break it down:

Round 1 #18 Overall:  Phil Bickford, RHP, JC.  6'4", 200 lbs.  Bickford has taken a circuitous route to this point in his career, although it is not that dissimilar to last year's first round pick, Tyler Beede.  Hey, the Giants like to go back to things that have worked in the past?  From now on, we'll focus on pitchers who were drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays but didn't sign!  Maybe we can narrow it down further to pitchers whose names start with the letter B!  Bickford caught serious helium out of HS 2 years ago and was drafted #10 overall by the Toronto Blue Jays.  He never signed a contract which has been the source of some speculation as to why.  He enrolled at CS Fullerton, a top notch college program and pitched well his freshman season while being used both as a starter and reliever going 6-3, 2.13, 76 IP, 13 BB, 74 K.

He then surprisingly announced he was leaving CS Fullerton for where, he didn't know, but his stated purpose was to make himself available for the 2015 draft.  He ended up at the same Nevada JC where Bryce Harper attended for 1 season after leaving HS a year early.  There, he put up video game numbers with over 160 K's in under 90 IP.  Yesterday morning, it was announced that Bickford had failed a drug test for Marijuana at what passes for a MLB scouting combine.  Apparently the Giants did not care and grabbed him with the 18'th pick in the draft.

Phil Bickford has an almost perfect pitcher's body, long, lean but well muscled, especially in the legs.  He has a powerful delivery with possibly slightly more effort than ideal. His release point is mid-3/4.  His velocity can vary which has been a point of discussion.  He sits 93-97 MPH with the FB when pitching out of the bullpen, but 90-94 when starting, although reports had him pitching in the mid-90's as the JC season progressed.  He pounds the zone with a low-mid 90's 2-seam FB which he can keep at the knees and induce oodles of ground balls.  He also has a curve and changeup that scouts seem to think need work.

Bickford still has leverage in bonus negotiations as he could go back to a 4 year college, but when you drop out of a 4 year college after your freshman season with the announced intention of enter the draft a year early, you are going to sign.  He does not have as many innings as Beede did last year and does not have to pitch through the college WS, so we should see more of him this summer that we did Beede last year.  I imagine he'll start out in Salem-Kaiser with a possible late summer promo to San Jose if everything goes well.  I also imagine the first thing the Giants will do with him is teach him the cutter to pair with his already excellent 2-seamer and let him do the Beede thing.  In other words, don't be shocked or dismayed if we see a lot of groundballs and not very many K's in the early going.

I really like this pick.  Just wasn't what I was expecting, but probably should have.


Round 1(Compensation) #31 Overall:  Chris Shaw, OF/1B, College.  B-L, T-R.  6'3", 240 lbs.  This is another one we probably should have seen coming.  The Giants have said over and over that they don't think they can get power hitting free agents to come and play in their ballpark, so they have to draft and develop them.  It's just that this is the type of player they usually wait until at least round 3 to draft.  Shaw may be the premiere power hitter in a very weak draft for power.  His junior season was cut short by a hamate fracture.  The Giants know about hamate fractures and obviously are not concerned about long term consequences.

Shaw is built like the incredible hulk.  He is athletic enough to play LF in college, but will almost certainly be a pro first baseman.  His size appears to be mostly due to muscle with a massive butt and upper legs which he uses to generate his power.  He is more than a power hitter.  I would describe him as more of a hitter with power.  His batting stance and swing is not that dissimilar to Joe Panik's, except that the size gives him several orders of magnitude more power.  He has very little extraneous movement in his swing.  If you watch his front foot in videos, he slightly turns his front leg in on the toes, then takes about a 3-4 inch forward step.  If you focus on his hands, there is almost no pre-swing load. He takes a short, quick path to the ball and gets both cheeks into it, as Kruk would say, and those are enormous cheeks!

Here are his college stats for the past 2 seasons at Boston College:

2014:  .329/.393/.502, 6 HR, 21 BB, 38 K, 207 AB.
2015:  .319/.411/.611, 11 HR, 20 BB, 26 K, 144 AB.

As you can see, Shaw is not a 3 true outcomes guy.  Although he has a solid walk rate, he also makes contact keeping his K rate at around 15% which is excellent for a power hitter.

I would not anticipate any problems in the signing process and expect to see him hitting dingers in Salem-Kaiser this summer.


Round 2 #61 Overall:  Andrew Suarez, LHP, College.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Suarez caught serious helium before last year's draft by throwing in the low-mid 90's for Miami.  He ended up getting drafted but did not sign.  He started slow this season but steadied himself and ended up with fine numbers.  He's a pitchability college lefty with a little more size and velocity than the average finesse lefty.  Not a real exciting pick, but probably a smart one. If he can stay healthy and maintain velocity, he should eventually reach the majors as a #3-4 starter.


  1. I like the picks. Not totally psyched about Shaw, he has to really hit and looks a bit stiff. The Bickford pick is inspired, I think that's a guy very similar to Ashe Russell, but with more development under his belt already. Suarez has a good arsenal of pitches.

  2. Hmmm.... might the Giants have a Killer B starting rotation in their future with Bumgarner, Beede, Bickford, Blackburn and Blach?

  3. Bumgarner, Cain, Beede and Meija next year. That leaves open one spot, and it could be Crick or Blackburn (although each have their own issues). You've also got HestoPresto. I can see them holding on to both Crick/Blackburn until after next year to see if Beede and Meija stick (and also to figure out where HP fits into all this). You could see some guys moving into the pen, but Blackburn and HP don't really fit that profile. Forgetting Crick's future as a starter, one issue is do they now have enough arms where maybe his best shot and our highest need is in the pen?

    In terms of the pen though, you've got Broadway, Osich and Okert, added to Strickland. That is 4 very strong young guys. I'm sure there are others there too, but at some level the spots are filling up even before you include this year's draft. One question for Doc is does he think that Crick, if moved to the pen, could be a better closer than Strickland? No knocking depth though.

    Bickford seems to me a guy who could be Cain's replacement at the end of his contract. Suarez seems like insurance on Meija, maybe Bumgarner (in case he just runs out of gas) or even going to a 3 man lefty rotation. I like both moves. Can never have enough lefties.

    We can always use a good 1b and Shaw is probably 3-4 years away. Even if we sign Belt, I would think it is a 5 year contract and we need to build depth (we have in the middle, some depth at lower levels at 3b but only Ricky O at 1b, so another guy who is a legit middle of the lineup is good). I'm not a draft guy like you all, but seems these were thoughtful picks from a potential and need stand point.

  4. Great recap Doc! I too was shocked by the Bickford pick, although I will say I had him mocked to Miami at 13 last week. So, technically, that's a good value pick right? I think he could be a stud.. but I also think he could be very inconsistent.

    Shaw does have a smooth looking swing to my eyes too. I really wasn't crazy about that pick, but after thinking it over, here's what I came up with. We Giants fans have been clamoring about a big slugger for years... maybe this is the guy? The Giants don't draft power this high, so I'd have to think they're really in love with Shaw's bat. 65 power grade from MLB.com. What's that, 25 HR a year? Who is the last homegrown Giants player that got that kind of power remarks?

  5. Great work, DrB! I love the Bickford pick. I have read on Eric Longenhagen in his last playoff start three weeks ago that he pitched a no-hitter for 7 1/3 innings with 15 strikeouts while flashing a plus fastball in the mid 90s and changeup against a good hitting JUCO squad. He's pitching since January though from what I have recently read, that may limit his exposure in the minors this year. Here's to hoping he'll develop a changeup/splitter!

    Shaw is a big guy with a simple swing. Giants love their hit tools and they think he'll be a better hitter than everyone expected with buttloads of power. I think he'll hit dingers in AT&T with relative ease.

    Love Mr. Covechatter's description about Suarez. Ty Blach with more velocity. That's exactly who he is IMO.