MLB Draft

Recent history suggests direction Giants should go with No. 2 pick

Recent history suggests direction Giants should go with No. 2 pick

SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval said he wanted to cry as he rounded the bases and headed for the plate after a walk-off homer Sunday. Somewhere at AT&T Park, there were probably a few team officials who felt the same. 

The Giants never actively tanked — they did the opposite, in fact — but they did finish just one loss away from the No. 1 pick in the draft. That didn't just cost them a chance to pick first, it also chopped about $500,000 off their draft bonus pool. A few minutes after Sandoval clinched win No. 64, the Tigers lost their 98th game, capping a truly horrendous month of September. They owned the tiebreaker by percentage points, having finished one win behind the Giants last season (the teams both had 75 losses but the Tigers only played 161 games). 

The Giants have picked in the top two of the draft just once in their history and it worked out well. They took Will Clark second overall in 1985. A year later, Matt Williams was their selection with the third pick in the draft. Jason Grilli (fourth in 1997) and Buster Posey (fifth in 2008) are the only other top-five picks in franchise history. 

Recent history says they’ll get a very talented player who should develop into one of the game’s top prospects. Here’s a look at the last 10 guys who were selected second overall … 

2017: Hunter Greene, Reds (in the minors)

2016: Nick Senzel, Reds (in the minors, currently MLB Pipeline’s No. 8 prospect)

2015: Alex Bregman, Astros (worth 3.8 WAR this season)

2014: Tyler Kolek, Marlins (in low minors, lost a year to Tommy John)

2013: Kris Bryant, Cubs (was the 2016 NL MVP)

2012: Byron Buxton, Twins (worth 3.5 WAR this season)

2011: Danny Hultzen, Mariners (retired because of injuries)

2010: Jameson Taillon, Pirates (4.44 ERA in 25 starts this season)

2009: Dustin Ackley, Mariners (was in AAA after six years in Majors)

2008: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (154 big league homers but never became a star)

If you go back a few more years, you can add Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Justin Verlander to the list. There are also quite a few busts, obviously. The draft is an inexact science, although the last few drafts probably suggest the Giants should go with a position player to minimize the risk. They have until next June to figure out what they want to do.

Tigers win tiebreaker with Giants, land top pick in 2018 MLB Draft

Tigers win tiebreaker with Giants, land top pick in 2018 MLB Draft

The Giants entered the final day of the 2017 regular season with a one-game lead over the Tigers in the race for the worst record in baseball and the top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

To get the top pick, the Giants needed to lose or have the Tigers win. Neither of those things happened on Sunday, thanks to Pablo Sandoval and the Minnesota Twins.

At exactly 3pm PT, Sandoval hit a walk-off home run to push the Giants' final record to 64-98. At that point, attention shifted to the Tigers and Twins.

But at 3:27pm PT, former Giant Ehire Adrianza caught a fly ball for the final out of the Twins' 5-1 win over the Tigers, meaning Detroit finished with the exact same 64-98 record as the Giants.

The tiebreaker? The team with the worse record in 2016. And there was almost a tie there as well. Last year, the Giants (87-75) finished a half-game better than the Tigers (86-75).  Detroit played one fewer game than the Giants because they had a game rained out. They didn't make it up on the Monday following the season because it wouldn't have factored into the playoff standings.

So, instead of the Giants, the Tigers are on the clock for the 2018 MLB Draft, which will be held early next June.

Some notable players expected to be in play for the top overall pick are high school RHP Ethan Hankins, high school SS Brice Turang, high school third baseman Nolan Gorman, Florida RHP Brady Singer, Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal and South Florida LHP Shane McClanahan.

The Giants and Tigers are five years removed from facing each other in the 2012 World Series.

Here is the order for the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, according to MLB.com:
1. Tigers
2. Giants
3. Phillies
4. White Sox
5. Reds
6. Mets
7. Padres
8. Braves
9. Athletics
10. Pirates
11. Orioles
12. Blue Jays
13. Marlins
14. Mariners
15. Rangers
16. Rays
17. Angels
18. Royals
19. Cardinals
20. Twins
21. Brewers
22. Rockies
23. Yankees
24. Cubs
25. D-backs
26. Red Sox
27. Nationals
28. Astros
29. Indians
30. Dodgers

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Monday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.