Sifting through the rejects pile

Let's see if we can find the Giants some UDFA

[EDITOR’S NOTE: As teams are able to begin signing UDFA today, I’ve moved up Monday’s post a day. Happy Sunday reading!]

The Draft is done! Long live the Draft!

That’s right, after all the build up, all the analysis, all the headscratching and complaining and coming to terms or even extolling the draft — we still have more amateur player acquisition talk to get down to. The truncation of this year’s draft to a minuscule five rounds means there’s a wash of players out there who would have been drafted in a normal year, but who are now standing outside the storefront window staring in at the candy drawers.

The college Juniors among that group now face a painful and difficult decision: return to college and hope for better next year (when the draft will likely be 20 rounds) or sign for a measly $20,000. That’s a significant step down from the $150,000 bonus slot level in the final round of this year’s draft and it represents the last remotely significant amount of money they’ll be likely to see for the next six or seven year, which doesn’t seem too enticing. But, of course, returning to college brings its own problems — with incoming classes swollen from the undrafted or unsignable high school ranks, there will shortages of playing time. And next year’s draft — containing major parts of two draft classes — will still be leave many of these same players out. In addition, college seniors also have far less bargaining leverage and tend to get drafted lower and paid less than juniors. And all the time there is a chance that injury can make their situation even worse.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I presumed that High School kids would mostly forgo the $20k incentive, but it appears that was incorrect:

So let’s wade through the piles of the passed over to see if there are any good fits for the Giants. They’ve said they will be aggressive in trying to sell undrafted players on the virtues of the organization and they have said that they will use connections they have to try to help recruit. It’s hard to tell exactly how many UDFA the Giants will be able to sign, as the inevitable loss of two short-season clubs next year means there’s going to be a lot of lost roster spaces in the minor leagues and they won’t want to sign players who don’t have opportunity to play.

The signing period for UDFA begins on this morning, June 14 at 6 am (so hopefully this piece isn’t bound for the dustbin by the time you read it). So who might the Giants be wooing this very minute, trying to convince to come be Giants? Remember, our bullet points from last week, thinking about the type of players the organization might value:

  1. They like successful track records

  2. They are going to make heavy use of analytical models

  3. They like young members of their class

  4. Those value control of the strike zone

And with those thoughts and a few connections that might work for in the Giants advantage, let’s create a few buckets and see who’s inside:

Previously Drafted

This is the weakest of the categories, as it only points to players that members of the Giants organization would LIKE to acquire, not necessarily players they have any chance of acquiring. But there are three notable players in the UDFA ranks who have a connection to a member of the Giants’ braintrust through a former draft.

RHP Trey Dillard, University of Missouri closer by way of pitching factory San Jacinto JC, was formerly taken in the 16th round of the 2018 draft by Farhan Zaidi’s Dodgers. Dillard suffers one of the more common maladies in baseball: above average stuff with below average control. He was starting to show steps in the right direction this spring, with just one run allowed in eight innings. His upper 90s fastball and power slider combo make him a strong relief arm if he could throw strikes.

Florida RHP Tommy Mace is almost certainly not signable or he presumably would have been drafted. But the 6’7” righty would give Sean Hjelle someone in the organization to comfortably high five and he shares with Hjelle a sinker-heavy groundball attack. Mace was previously drafted in 2017 (12th round) by Scott Harris’ Reds team. The same goes for Ohio State LHP Seth Lonsway (2017, 19th round), who runs up ridiculous strikeout and walk rates in tandem. If a team could solve his mechanical issues, there’s a lot of legitimate stuff coming from the left-hand side in this package.

Personal Connections to Exploit

So what about guys who fit our bulletpoints above and who offer a Giants connection who might whisper in their ears? I can find a few actually!

Joey Bart’s former Ramblin’ Wreck teammate Luke Waddell was a walking machine in college and on the Team USA National Team. The Georgia Tech SS runs well, can play all over the field, has a history of hitting, and walked 45 times to just 22 strikeouts as a sophomore! Sign me up!

Or how about this package? I’ve got a guy who just turned 21 two months ago (young for class), plays CF and 2b (versatile), is known for his impressive bat to ball skills, and had close to a 1:1 ratio of walks to strikeouts in college. If it sounds like Farhan Zaidi should want to know how he can find this young man, tell him Tyler McDonough is yet another member of the well-shopped North Carolina State Wolfpack team, and if Michael Holmes doesn’t have his number, then Patrick Bailey and Nick Swiney will!

The University of Louisville team that brought the Giants Logan Wyatt and Tyler Fitzgerald last year has two intriguing teammates. 2b Lucas Dunn, like McDonough, plays both infield and OF and walked as much as he K’d in college (42 to 44). He has little to no power but he hits, walks, is a terror on the basepaths and plays everywhere. And he just turned 21 on April 30, so he checks that box too. Meanwhile in the Cardinals bullpen you’ll find 6’6” LHP Michael Kirian who allowed just 3 of 22 batters to reach base against him this spring. He’s a hard-throwing funky-delivering lefty who no left-handed hitter is going to enjoy taking at bats against.

If Tyler Beede is visiting his old Vandy coach, Tim Corbin, while rehabbing, he might want to take the opportunity to put a buzz in LHP Hugh Fisher’s ear about the Giants. Fisher’s another young for his class pitcher who hasn’t really figured things out yet, but he has a low slot fastball that some scouts think has the potential to reach 100, which could work!

For an extra degree of separation, Xavier OF Allbry Major was a teammate of new Giant Casey Schmitt on the Cape, where they both helped Cotuit win a championship. Major crushed the Cape Cod League but has been mostly underwhelming on campus.

Finally, Stanford’s Brendan Beck doesn’t really fit the profile that the Giants seem to value all that well, but he is Tristan’s little brother, which seems a connection worth mentioning.

No Connections, but the Model Fits?

Now we’re probably getting a little too far afield so I’ll run through these a little quicker. The Giants massive major league coaching staff probably has six degrees of separation from most of the baseball world, so perhaps there are connections to exploit here. Mostly these guys just bring an attribute that fits.

Florida Southern 1b Jacob Teter is young, controls the strikezone, and has shown excellent power with the potential to get to even more with some swing changes. He impressed on the Cape and followed that up by walking 23 times to 13 Ks this spring while homering 7 times. Auburn OF Steven Williams is another February birthdate who walks a ton and has excellent power. He mysteriously followed up a monster Cape in 2018 with a woeful sophomore year in the SEC. He might have had a chance to redeem himself in 2020.

Age doesn’t seem to mean as much for pitchers, but UVA LHP Andrew Abbott just turned 21 on June 1 and has run up a tremendous amount of K’s in his ACC career. Unlike Kirian, the knock on Abbott is his small size. Other younger pitchers who seem to be just starting to break their way out of the chrysalis would include University of Georgia’s LHP Ryan Webb, South Carolina’s RHP Thomas Farr, Kansas State’s Carson Seymour (who has some crazy stuff he’s just starting to figure out what to do with) and VaTech’s fireballing RHP Zach Brzykcy, who would be fun to sign just so we can all attempt to say his name. As I say, age is less important for pitchers and all of these kids would likely profit from getting an extra year on campus to work things out, but there’s some intriguing possibilities with this group.

Roger Wants this to Happen

Ok, our final category probably doesn’t have much relevance for the Giants. But I’m in charge here and I’m including it! Feel free to skip on down.

Coastal Carolina’s Parker Chavers is for my money, maybe the most talented guy who didn’t get his name called last week. Chavers is a seriously tooled up CF prospect who brings my coveted power-speed combo. Surgery for an arm injury (his throwing arm) kept him from seeing any action this spring, but he too was part of the Championship Cotuit club last summer, so perhaps Casey Schmitt can give Chavers a call as well. You might remember Brian Recca speaking enthusiastically about Chavers back on Pod-One. Seriously Giants — Make this one happen!

I’ve had Darren Baker’s name down on the rolls of Giants since 2002, dangit! This kid’s been a Legacy Giant as long as he’s been alive. He’s also fast, athletic, a strong defensive infielder, brings great baseball IQ and has made strides on his control of the strike zone. He’s also just a great kid. The Baseball God’s will not look kindly on missing this opportunity!

And finally, signing Oregon RHP Cullen Kafka will allow this former English grad student to wed my love of baseball with my ability to make jokes about “The Metamorphosis.” “It was a real Trial out there today for Kafka….” Oh yeah, this needs to happen too.


On this (uh…tomorrow’s) Day in History

2010: With an assist from the High Desert air, Brandon Belt had the biggest day yet in his breakout year, helping San Jose bash out a 15-11 victory. Belt’s second four-hit game of the year included his 7th and 8th HRs. He had a season high 6 RBIs and a season high 10 total bases. The outburst pushed his average back up to .394, a highwater mark in the month of June in his pursuit of .400. His OPS after two and a half months was an extraordinary 1.142. The 5th round pick from the previous year would spend the rest of the month with San Jose before moving up to AA on July 1, having posted a .383/.492/.638 line in A+ in his pro debut.

2010: Madison Bumgarner allowed 2 runs over 6 innings, pitching Fresno to a 7-2 victory over Portland and running his record for the season to 7-1. Bumgarner struck out a career low 1 batter in the game, and in fact, he had only 48 Ks on the year in 75 innings, causing continuing concerns over his suddenly lowered velocity and potentially lowered ceiling. Still the 20 year old sported an eminently respectable (for the PCL) 3.12 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. In his next start, he’d bust out with a season high 11 strikeouts in what was to be his final game in the minor leagues. After that June 20 start he’d join the San Francisco rotation for good. Looking back on it, 2010 must have felt pretty good!

2015: Melvin Adon picked up his first professional win, throwing 5 shutout innings while striking out 6. Robinson Madrano pitched in with his first two professional HRs to help lead the DSL Giants to a 13-7 win over the DSL Yankees1. Adon, who had turned 21 the previous week, would be a stalwart in the champs rotation, making 14 starts with a 2.48 ERA. But his advanced age (ridiculously old for the DSL) and modest peripherals (54 Ks in 69 IP with 21 BBs) kept him far off the radar of most prospect watchers who assumed he’d never even make it stateside. An object lesson in scouting the stat lines! Adon would rise to be one of the organization’s better pitching prospects and at 26 seems poised to finally make his big league debut.


And to finish off your morning, how about a depressingly insightful look into the MLB/MLBPA “negotiations” from an expert in collective bargaining: