Monday, November 23, 2015

Down on the Farm: 2011 Giants Draft Review

The recent 40 man roster adds of mostly players from the 2011 draft got me to thinking about doing a full review of those drafts to see where the players are at this point in their careers.  2011 was the year the Giants drafted Joe Panik in the first round, #29 overall, to much laughter and eye rolling among commentators on the MLB channel.  The pick was savaged by other analysts such as Keith Law of ESPN who famously called Joe a "utility infielder at best".   Here's the Giants complete draft list from 2011 excluding players who ended up not signing.  We'll list them by round with the highest level reached and their 2015 stats if they are still playing:

Round 1(#29):  Joe Panik, SS, St Johns.  MLB:  .312/.378/.455, 8 HR, 100 games.  Panik was in the middle of a tremendous season having earned 4.2 fWAR points by just past the halfway mark when he was stricken with a back injury that never completely healed.  Projected to 160 games, he was on a pace for a 6+ fWAR season which would have made him the top 2B in MLB by a safe margin.  He has earned 5.8 fWAR points in just over a full season's worth of PA's over 2 seasons.  On top of that, the Giants probably do not win the 2014 WS without him as his stellar play at 2B down the stretch was an immense help in securing a Wild Card spot and then there was his possibly game-saving play in Game 7 of the WS.  This draft would already be a success if no one else but Joe Panik reached the major leagues!  The challenge going forward is keeping the back healthy.  2016 will be a pivotal year in that regard.

Round 1(S):  Kyle Crick, RHP, HS.  AA:  3-4, 3.29, 63 IP, 10.43 K/9, 9.43 BB/9.  Cricky still has the fantastic stuff, but has struggled with his control.  Moving to the bullpen helped some, but he was still wild.  Added to the 40 man roster, the Giants have clearly not given up on him.  Ceiling is an elite closer or a #1/2 SP, but the bust potential is definitely there.

Round 2:  Andrew Susac, C, Oregon St.  MLB:  .218/.279/.368, 3 HR in 148 PA.  Susac struggled all season with a bad wrist and finally ended up having surgery early this offseason.  He's a terrific hitter when fully healthy and an adequate defensive catcher with room to improve.  As with all catchers, his future depends largely on being able to stay healthy.

Round 3:  Ricky Oropesa, 1B, USC.  AA:  .254/.311/.424, 17 HR in 499 PA.  Ricky has struggled mightily at AA.  His 17 HR's were tied for 3'rd in the EL, but most of them came in 2 hot streaks.  He's hoping for an assignment to Sacramento in 2016 where the PCL may feel more like home to the California kid.

Round 4:  Bryce Bandilla, LHP, Arizona.  DNP 2015.  Status unclear.  Bandilla was the first of a string of hard throwing college relievers taken in this draft.

Round 5:  Chris Marlowe, RHP, Oklahoma St.  Last played 2013, High A.

Round 6:  Josh Osich, LHP, Oregon St.  MLB:  2-0, 2.20, 28.2 IP, 8.48 K/9, 2.51 BB/9.  Started the season in AA, spent just a couple of game in AAA then made in immediate impact in the Giants bullpen with a mid-high 90's FB and a wicked change up.  Odds on favorite to make the 2016 Opening Day 25 man roster as Jeremy Affledt's replacement.

Round 7:  Ray Black, RHP, Pitt.  High A:  2-1, 2.88, 18.36 K/9, 9.00 BB/9.  Black routinely hit triple digits out of the SJ bullpen then lit up the guns in the Arizona Fall League topping out at 104 MPH.  A strange midseason trial as a SP did not work out.  His future is in the bullpen and could arrive in 2016.  The BB's are worrisome as is his injury history, but he's been mostly healthy for 2 seasons now and he does have stretches with apparently good control of the strike zone.

Round 8:  Jean Delgado, SS HS PR.  Last played 2013 Short Season.

Round 9:  Derek Law, RHP, JC.  AA:  0-1, 4.56, 25.2 IP, 11.22 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 13 Saves.  Coming off TJ surgery, the ERA was a bit disappointing, but the K and BB ratios look great.  Look for a big breakout in 2016.

Round 10.  Kentrell Hill, OF, Ark. Baptist.  Last played 2013 Short Season.

Round 11.  Christian Diaz, OF, HS PR.  Last played 2012 Rookie.

Round 12.  Kelby Tomlinson, SS, Texas Tech.  MLB:  .303/.358/.404, 2 HR, 5 SB 193 PA.  Tomlinson had to stand in the gap when Joe Panik went down and did so admirably.  He started out shaky on defense but improved immensely with a little experience.  At the plate, he just kept pecking away and was one of the toughest outs in the lineup all the way to the end of the season.  Will likely be the #1 utility IF to start 2016.

Round 14:  Garrett Buechele, 3B, Oklahoma.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 16:  Clayton Blackburn, RHP, HS.  AAA:  10-4, 2.85, 123 IP, 7.24 BB/9, 2.34 BB/9.  Blackburn has worked his way up the organizational ladder.  He got himself into tremendous shape for the 2015 season and is paid off with the top SP performance in the entire PCL by a wide margin.  Not much left to prove in the minors.  Some analysts question whether he has the stuff to be more than a back-end SP in the majors. Hey! You never know until you try!

Round 17:  Paul Davis, RHP, Florida Atlantic.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 18:  Cristian Otero, SS, HS PR.  Last played 2012, Short Season.

Round 19:  Cody Hall, RHP, Southern.  MLB:  0-0, 6.48, 8.1 IP, 7.56 K/9, 4.32 BB/9.  Had a 3.46 ERA in AAA.  The hard throwing RHP showed flashes of brilliance in a brief MLB callup in September.  Will compete for a bullpen spot in the spring, but will likely start the season in AAA.

Round 20:  Mitchell Beacom, LHP, UCLA.  Last played 2012 High A.

Round 21:  Cameron McVey, RHP, Biola.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 23:  Jonathan Jones, 3B, Canada JC.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 24:  Keith Bilodeau, RHP, Maine.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 25:  Demondre Arnold, RHP, JC.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 26:  Joe Biagini, RHP, UC Davis.  AA:  10-7, 2.42, 130.1 IP, 5.80 K/9, 2.35 BB/9.  Big Joe had something of a breakout season in 2015 although some would scoff at the low K rate.  He throws hard and tries to induce weak contact.   Was left unprotected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft and I could see some team taking a flyer on him, although the Giants have not had a player selected in the Rule 5 draft since Joe Paterson a long time ago.

Round 27:  Jack Snodgrass, LHP, Austin Peay St.  AAA:  1-2, 4.84, 27.1 IP, 8.06 K/9, 4.84 BB/9.  Tall lefty.  Could still emerge in a second AAA season.  Most likely ceiling is MLB lefty specialist.

Round 28:  Tyler Mizenko, RHP, Winthrop.  AA:  4-3, 1.98, 50 IP, 5.04 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 4 Saves.  Was a closer at lower levels, but probably does not K enough to close at higher levels.  He's an extreme GB pitcher who could thrive as a long-middle reliever.

Round 29:  Eldred Barnett, OF, Grambling St.  Last played 2012 Rookie.

Round 31:  Phil McCormick, LHP, Missouri.  AA:  4-3, 2.04, 57.1 IP, 5.97 K/9, 3.30 BB/9, 5 Saves.  Lefty reliever who can go more than 1 inning.  Held his own in the AFL.  Let's see what he can do in the big bad PCL!

Round 32:  Mike Mergenthaler, OF, Richmond.  Last played 2012 Low A.

Round 34:  Ben Thomas, 1B, Xavier.  Last played 2012, Low A.

Round 35:  Shawn Payne, OF, Georgia Southern.  Last played 2014 High A.

Round 38:  Brian Nicholson, 1B, Concordia.  Last played 2012 Short Season.

Round 41:  Steven Neff, LHP, South Carolina.  Last played 2014 Short Season.

Round 42:  Danny Sandbrink, RHP, Stanford.  Last played 2014 High A.

Round 43:  Drew Stiner, C, HS.  Last played 2013 Rookie.

Round 44:  Travious Relaford, SS, JC.  Low A: .237/.313/.292.  Hit with a 50 game suspension early this offsetseason which he will have to serve at the start of the 2016 season. Future was already on shaky ground.

Round 45:  Brian Maloney, LHP, Franklin Pierce.  Last played 2011 Short Season.

Round 46:  Elliott Blair, OF, Oklahoma.  Last played 2014 AA.

Round 48:  Jake Smith, RHP, Campbell.  High A:  4-4, 2.35, 84.1 IP 12.59 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, 16 Saves. Workhorse reliever for the great SJ bullpen in 2015.  Added to the 40 man roster a few days ago.  Looking to become a late round success story.

So there you have it.  This draft would be a success if no one else made the majors except Joe Panik.  In fact, 4 others have already played in the major leagues with Tomlinson, Osich and Susac making significant contributions.  4 others, Smith, Blackburn, Law and Black are on the 40 man roster and appear to be well on their way to MLB careers.  If Panik can stay healthy and just a couple more make it to the majors, this has a chance to be one of the all-time great Giants drafts.  This draft demonstrates the importance of competing for each round of the draft.  All it takes is finding 1 or 2 extra MLB players out of every draft class and you have established a significant competitive advantage over teams that stop paying attention after the first round.


  1. At one point I thought Shawn Payne was the steal at #35. He had a year to remember in 2012 at Augusta batting .309 while stealing 53 bases out of 56 attempts. He quickly came back to reality and was out of the organization by the end of 2014. I just remember thinking he was the next big thing and then nothing.

  2. And yet, I can make an argument that in the long run, the 2012 draft will out perform 2011. Imagine if the Giants were able to pick Wacha like they wanted instead of Stratton (just 1 pick). 2013 is not looking too shabby either. This scouting/development team is really underrated.

    1. Gotta be patient there, Anon. We'll get to 2012 in due time.

    2. But imagine if the Cards had NOT selected Wacha- there would be no Ishi home run to win the National League pennant and punch our ticket to the series. As much as I would have loved Wacha over Stratton, that is a moment Giants' fans will never forget. It's funny how these things work out in baseball. Gotta love it.

      Nice write-up Doc! AJ

  3. It is interesting to see how things have played out. I was only lukewarm on Panik when the Giants drafted him. Now, he's one of my favorite Giants. I thought we got several mid-round steals who were going to make an impact like Garret Buechele, Kentrell Hill, and Christian Davis. Shows what I know.

  4. The Giants really haven't gotten much credit for their recent draft classes, but other than 2010 being a flop class, I think they've done an exceptional job. Look at that group above. Talent littered all over the class. Even though it's very early, I have to say I've got similar excitement for the 2015 class. I think they plucked a lot of future MLB'ers in there.

    Cove Chatter

  5. Wacha is a stretch because he got picked before the Giants slot but Marcus Stroman was picked 2 slots after the Giants and that would have been an excellent pick in hindsight.

  6. My basic rule of thumb of 'successful' is if you generate one high-quality, difference making fielder and/or starting pitcher out of a draft you're doing well. I mean, honestly, most playoff clubs only have a handful of really good, difference-making players. After that, I think you're doing okay if you're getting one or two decent players per draft. Not necessarily top-flight/top-five starters, but guys that aren't going to embarrass you -- #4/5 pitchers, solid middle relievers, bench depth, relief catchers, solid fielders/hitters.

    So, from that perspective, in 2011, the Giants got Panik, someone who is one of the best 2B in all of MLB and was a key in the Giants 2014 WS championship. That one player alone makes this draft a winner. Plus they got some depth and quality out of Tomlinson, Susac and Osich, all of whom have shown themselves. to one extent or another, to be MLB worthy even if they're not All-Stars or even merit-starters yet.

    And there is still at least some reasonable hope for a number of the prospects sill in the minors -- Law, Biagini, Blackburn, Hall, Black and possibly even Kyle 'Wild Thing' Crick who, when he's on, is nearly unhittable.

  7. I agree, Doc, on the importance of treating each round of the draft as important. Longshot success stories like Marvin Benard (50th round) and hopefully Jake Smith (Rd. 48) are examples of why I do not want to see the draft cut to 30 rounds or even 40 rounds. Sure, some teams probably start throwing in the towel half way through the draft and some make novelty/publicity picks late in the draft, but the Giants don't operate that way. It's like when a class is given three hours for the final exam.. Some students blast through it and turn in their tests early and start partying. Other students grind it out, double or triple check their answers, and use the full time allowed. Why not? It is given to you so take it. Sure, it's not the best analogy for the draft, but if you are allowed 50 picks, go all out on each and every round. As OGC mentioned in an earlier post, selecting a player who may not sign still creates a relationship with that player and his family. And if the player does sign, there are always late round success stories which in the end is better publicity for the team than purposely selecting someone as a publicity stunt or a favor. The late pick may exceed projections and expectations, or just being selected late may light a fire under some players who want to prove they are good enough to have been selected earlier. Just being drafted fulfills many a young players' dream and could lead to an eventual career in the game as a coach or executive for the team, if not as a player. Everyone loves the underdog, and the Giants seem to have more than their share of those types of players, which is why they are such an enjoyable team to root for.

    1. I hear what you are saying but if the draft only lasted 30 rounds, the Giants could still sign a Jake Smith as an undrafted FA.

  8. Thanks for posting this review. Nice to see this draft laid out like this.