Sunday, June 3, 2018

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Rumors, Machinations and Strategy

So, every recent mock draft has the same first 3 picks in the draft:  1.  Tigers- RHP Casey Mize.  2.  Giants- C Joey Bart.  3.  Phillies- 3B Alec Bohm.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, who seems to have some of the better scouting connections and famously predicted the Giants would draft Christian Arroyo, says that's how it's probably going to go, but with some intrigue creeping in.  It seems the Tigers are keeping their options open and are scouting several other players with Joey Bart jumping ahead of the Giants pick a real possibility.  The Giants are rumored to be in on HS RHP Cole Winn who reportedly would sign a significantly under-slot deal freeing up money to sign more expensive talent later in the draft.  Word is the Giants still want Bart at #2.  If the Tigers take him instead of Mize, the back up plan for the Giants is not Mize, but Winn.

So what's going on here?  Conventional wisdom says the only thing that would make the Tigers pass on Casey Mize is a scary medical report.  That's not necessarily true, according to Kiley.  Apparently the wildcard in all of this is the Phillies who are believed to be willing to punt the rest of their draft to go over slot on the player they really want, which would be Mize.  This may be causing Mize to up his bonus demands with the Tigers to well above slot, which the Tigers may not want to do and the Giants definitely don't.

Got all that?  Good!


So, who is Cole Winn?  I honestly don't recall whether I already profiled him in my draft series and don't feel like combing through the archives to see.  Winn is a HS senior originally from Colorado who transferred to Orange Lutheran HS in SoCal to get exposed to better competition.  He's got a nice frame at 6'2", 180 lbs that has some room to add muscle, though not a lot.  He throws a low-mid 90's FB.  He's turned a slurvy curve into 2 distinct pitches with bite, a curve and a slider.  He also has a decent changeup but does not use it much because high school.  The delivery is clean with some effort.  Despite the effort, what sets him apart from other HS pitchers is the command of at least 3 pitches.  Overall, he's a respectable first round draft pick, but with nothing that makes you stop and say, "OMG!  I have to have this kid!"


So, the smart way for the Giants to go would be the respectable first round pick with the underslot bonus and use the money saved to go after better players later in the draft, right?  Well, not necessarily.  As ogc has preached until he is figuratively blue in the face, about 70% of the value of the draft is generally found in the first round and about 70% of the first round value is found in the top half or even top 10 picks.  The probability of drafting an impact player in the top 5 or 10 picks quickly degrades from around 50% to no more that about 10% by round 2 and keeps on going down after that.  It probably makes more sense based on historical evidence to take that almost mythical Best Player Available with your high pick, pay him most of your bonus pool and punt the rest of the draft!

So, if Casey Mize demands too much from the Tigers and falls to #2, why not just take him?  Well, whether it makes sense or not, the Giants probably don't want to effectively give up on their 2'nd round pick to go overslot for Mize.  But what if they just called his bluff, drafted him at #2 and offered him $6.5 M which is approximately $1 M underslot?  It's not like he's going to go back to school and lose what little leverage he has.  My theory is the Giants place more value on character than most organizations and feel like a guy who plays those kinds of bonus demand games might not be the type of guy they want in the organization.


My other theory is that there may be people, namely Dick Tidrow, in the Giants organization who genuinely have Cole Winn at the top of their draft board.  Tidrow almost exclusively scouts pitchers and likely still has a lot of influence over which ones they draft.  He is famous for going his own way against the industry consensus.  Scouting Director John Barr is clearly more comfortable scouting and drafting hitters.  My theory is Barr wants Joey Bart and Tidrow wants Winn.  The deal they have worked out is that Bart will be the pick if he's there, but Winn rather than Mize or Alec Bohm or another hitter is Plan B.


It's also possible that all of this is just bluffing and misdirection to try to squeeze a few hundred K out of the signing bonuses one way or the other and the draft will fall exactly as predicted by the consensus.  That seems to actually be the most likely outcome.


Covechatter has done an exhaustive study of top 10 draft picks.  Historically, the safest, most productive picks in the top 5 and top 10 are college hitters and it's not really close.  This would suggest that if the Joey Bart goes to the Tigers at #1, the Giants should fall back to Alec Bohm or Nick Madrigal or Travis Swaggerty.  Word from Kiley is that's not going to happen and the fallback is  definitely Winn.


Much as I believe in Covechatter's analysis, part of me realizes that pitching is very thin in the organization.  The Giants have drafted a lot of high ceiling arms with severe control issues in the belief they can correct those issues and develop them into solid MLB pitchers.  So far, that has not worked out.  The organization is in almost desperate need of re-stocking the farm system with serious  pitching prospects.  I am A-OK with them drafting Joey Bart at #2 overall, but after that I would be very happy if they took pitchers with the next 6 or 7 picks or even the rest of the top 10!  If they take Cole Winn at #2, I would be happy if they use the extra slot money and keep right on drafting HS pitching through at least round 3 then switch to college pitching for at least 3-4 rounds after that.  If they came away from the draft with a re-stocked store of pitching prospects I would consider it a success.


  1. As a draft neophyte, I've been trying to study up on all of the possibilities. This year's draft could be a crucial part of the Giants' puzzle in coming years, given how much money they've now got locked up in older players. This blog post put it all together in a way I haven't seen elsewhere. Thanks for your efforts, much appreciated!

  2. Thanks for posting this and help making some sense of all the rumors. Jonathan Mayo is saying that the Tigers have narrowed their 1st pick to 3 choices, all college players: Casey Mize continues to be the front runner, followed by Joey Bart(c), and Brady Singer(p). John Barr said he has several players in mind with their pick pending Detroit's pick. We'll see what happens.


  3. I read a fan-consensus mock draft that had us drafting Alec Bohm, 3rd base. I had no idea who he was, because, let's face it, I don't have time to follow the baseball draft which is much, much harder to do than the NFL draft.

    So, what I read is that he is a second-team All American who hit .339 with 57 runs, 76 hits, 14 doubles, 1 triple, 16 home runs, 55 RBI, 39 walks and 9 stolen bases in 2018. His game power is, currently, rated 55 (MLB Pipeline) and FanGraphs projets him to 70 power. He also has a much better eye than most power hitters and walked more than he struck out last with 39BB to 28K.

    He never hit under .303 at the college level. His OPS went from .893 as a Freshman to 1.061 as a Junior.

    His defense is a bit rough, but he's got the arm for 3rd, and FanGraphs & Perfect Game both agree he has the tools to improve it. But he may end up a first baseman.

    Here's a link to The Baseball Cube's stat profile:

    Many mocks have going 3rd to the Phillies.

    And, OMG, he's four months older than my youngest daughter... I'm getting old. Better join the AARP.

    1. Quite a few Alec Bohm fans out there. I'd be OK with the Giants drafting him if they believe in his bat, but I would prefer Bart or a pitcher or HS OF Jarred Kelenic. I don't trust offensive numbers that come out of Wichita St and he's a corner player so will have to hit a ton.

  4. Once the pick is made, say Detroit takes Bart, and the Giants take the consensus guy rather than the scouting report -- Casey Mize, the negation begins -- Giants offer, then if it's not accepted, there is a counter offer, and it goes on?
    Ultimately, the Giants would sign him and NOT let him go -- is that correct?
    Giants would NOT end up with nothing?
    Whet is the physical doubt with Mize? I thought he was fluid with more than a FB, high level competition? why NOT take him, specifically?
    Is he a future Bumgarner? Who was the wiseman there?
    For sure, if you have another Bumgarner, you take him! Even out of HS, a stud pitcher is onle a few years away.

    1. Sure, the Giants or Tigers could take Mize, make him an offer then dare him to turn it down. He would be foolish to walk away from a $multimillion, return to school and lose the leverage of returning to school. Question is whether he's really enough of a slam-dunk prospect to make you want to go through that process. Have a history of playing fair with their draftees, but staying away from ones who are likely to cause trouble like that.

      As for medicals on Mize, I think it is mostly speculation. He does have a history of an arm injury, but seems fine now.

  5. DrB, thank you for mentioning my research, and thank you for putting all of the speculation into context for us. You likely aren't too far away from the truth here, and I truly believe that.

    The frustrating part for me is wondering why the Giants would just skip over so many other talented players to "settle" for an underslot deal with Winn, when Winn isn't even the consensus top prep arm in the class. Not even the consensus top prep RIGHT-HANDER in the class. But your explanation actually helps me understand this a little better. Holding the number 2 pick, it makes no sense to have anymore than 2 players on your 1st round board, right? If #1 is drafted, you just take #2. And if Winn is truly the #1 pitcher in their eyes (Tidrow's eyes), then it all makes perfect sense.

    Honestly, I wasn't hoping to prove anything or make any statements by compiling that Top 5 & Top 10 data. I was just curious, and went down a rabbit hole. But the results really were an eye-opener. At the end of the day, the spot a player is drafted is simply just a number on a list, and great talent can come from anywhere... but there are only 2 pitchers who were selected in the top 5 out of high school who are pitching in the majors today. Bundy & Taillon. That blows my mind. And despite all of the data that supports taking a college hitter that high, I would probably still be ok with them drafting Matthew Liberatore!

    You and I are still very much on the same page here DrB, as I would love to see the organization go heavy on pitching. And if they take Bart at the top, it wouldn't bother me a bit to see a run of 9 consecutive pitchers for them.

    Thanks again for the plug, and here's hoping we strike gold tomorrow! Happy draft eve.

  6. Picking Cole Winn at #2, the Giants are (sorta) comp'ing him to Madison Bumgarner.
    If they are right, it will be the coup of the century.
    OTOH, it may be a thin draft compared to 2007, when Giants had 6 picks in the first round (in addition to Bum the Giants got Alderson who was traded for Freddy Sanchez and Culberson who was traded for Marco Scutaro). 2007 1st round included Donaldson, Price, Heyward, Frazier, Wieters, Porcello, Moustakas; second round Stanton, Freeman, J Zimmermann, Cozart; also Lucroy, Kluber, Arrieta came from 2007.