Down on the Farm: When Giants have top-five draft pick, they find stars


Down on the Farm: When Giants have top-five draft pick, they find stars

The last time the Giants owned a top-five pick in the MLB Draft, they called the name Gerald Dempsey "Buster" Posey. Yeah, that turned out pretty well. 

All in all, the Giants have only owned four top-five draft picks. Through Aug. 10, the Giants (46-70) are in place for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. 

When San Francisco's front office has been put in that position, they have pounced at the chance to find a star and place the team in the right direction. Starting with Will Clark, take a look back at the Giants' impressive history of success with a top-five draft pick. 

Will Clark, 1985, No. 2 overall

After an abysmal 1984 season, the Giants brought a new thrill to San Francisco with the second pick in the 1985 MLB Draft. 

As a junior at Mississippi State, his last year as a Bulldog, Will Clark dominated his college competition. He hit .420 with 25 home runs in 65 games played. Clark went on won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top college player. 

The start to his professional career was just as promising too. Clark played another 65 games at Advanced Single-A in Fresno and slashed .309/.558/.512 with 10 more home runs in '85. In less than a year after the Giants drafted him, the boisterous sweet-swinging lefty was in the bigs. 

Clark made his major league debut on April 8, 1986 at 22 years old against some 39-year-old named Nolan Ryan. Never mind that Ryan already had five no-hitters to his name, The Thrill couldn't care less. In his first at-bat, he took Ryan deep to dead center field. He went on to bat .287 with 11 home runs as a rookie. 

Over eight years with the Giants, Clark cranked out 176 home runs and 1278 hits with his .299/.373/.499 slash line. As a Giant, he was a five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger award winner and won the 1991 National League Gold Glove at first base. 

The Giants took Clark four picks before Barry Bonds went to the Pirates, but at the time, you couldn't fault San Francisco for taking the first baseman. And years later, there still shouldn't be any second guessing despite all that Bonds did. 

Matt Williams, 1986, No. 3 overall

Matt Williams' career was almost literally twice as good as the first two picks of the 1986 MLB Draft. Williams accumulated a 46.4 career bWAR over 17 years. In comparison, the first two picks of the draft combined for 47.7 career bWAR.

While the Giants painfully lost 100 games for the first time in franchise history in 1985, the team's worst season ever brought them a future star in Williams. 

Coming out of UNLV, Williams, like Clark, crushed 25 balls over the fence his final college season as a junior. But unlike the Giants' top pick from a year before, Williams didn't burst onto the scene right away. Though Williams made his major league debut in 1987, he truly became an everyday player for a full season in 1990 at 24 years old and was now a third baseman, no longer a shortstop. The wait was easily worth it. 

In his first season of seeing his name in the lineup every game, Williams was named an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger award as he knocked 33 home runs and led the league with 122 RBI. From that 1990 season through his final year with the Giants in 1996, Williams averaged 30 home runs and 92 RBI. 

As a Giant, Williams totaled 1092 hits and 247 home runs over 10 years. He was a four-time All-Star in San Francisco, won three Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves. 

The Giants' picks of Clark and Williams in back-to-back years went about as perfect as the team could have planned for. 

Jason Grilli, 1997, No. 4 overall

The Giants drafted Grilli as a junior out of Seton Hall University, but he was gone just two years later. The now journeyman never did make it to the majors with the Giants and was traded to the Marlins for Livan Hernandez on July 25, 1999. 

Before the trade, Baseball America twice saw Grilli as a Top 100 prospect for the Giants. The right-hander was ranked as the No. 54 prospect in the game by Baseball America going into the 1998 season. He moved up 10 spots to No. 44 prior to the 1999 season. 

Grilli is now in his 15th season and pitching for his ninth different team. He was named an All-Star as a reliever with the Pirates in 2013. 

Buster Posey, 2008, No. 5 overall

If it weren't for a 10-year minimum rule, Posey, in his eighth full season with the Giants, would already be a Hall of Famer.  

Let's look at his list of Cooperstown accomplishments he's already achieved at 30 years old. Posey is a three-time World Series champion, a NL MVP and Rookie of the Year, he's played in five All-Star Games, won three Silver Slugger awards, and took home his first Gold Glove last season. In other words, Posey is already on his way to etching his name among the greatest catchers of all-time. 

Remembering the 2008 MLB Draft, which was thought to be a stacked class at the time, Posey is far and above the best player. The four players selected ahead of him have combined for a 25 bWAR. By himself, Posey has a 37.5 bWAR. He is 12.5 wins better than the four together, and that includes All-Star Eric Hosmer. 

Posey is the latest in a line of Giants top five picks in which the franchise comes out on top. Grilli is nowhere near the player Clark, Williams or Posey turned into, yet even he became an All-Star down the line like the three others. 

The Giants expected to compete for a World Series this season. Instead, they're at the bottom of baseball, but maybe that means another future San Francisco star awaits them next June. 

What 2019 Giants would have looked like over shortened MLB schedule

What 2019 Giants would have looked like over shortened MLB schedule

It wasn't hard to predict that the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association would get nasty, but over the last few days, the twists have gotten a bit silly.

The owners have been pushing for an 82-game season, and on Sunday the players finally made their counter. Their return-to-play proposal included a season of 114 games. A day later, the owners leaked to ESPN's Jeff Passan that they might counter with a season of about 50 games. 

Guess what happens to be the midpoint between the two latest proposals? That's right, exactly 82 games.

The simple explanation here is that the owners believe they'll lose money for every game that's played without fans, and if the players aren't going to renegotiation their per-game salaries, the owners will make sure the entire pie is much smaller. The players, naturally, are pushing for as many games as possible, knowing that every extra week is that much more money. 

On and on they'll go, but sources on both sides still believe there will ultimately be a resolution. It just will take longer than first expected. 

As the sides continue volleying back and forth, let's bring it back to the Giants. We know how last season ended up over 162 games -- 77-85 -- but what would the 2019 Giants have looked like over a shortened season? 

50 Games

MLB is not going to play a 50-game season. That's an absurd notion, one that will force players and teams to spend a month scrambling to get health protocols in place only to rush through a season in less than two months. 

A season anywhere near this short would turn the playoff race upside down, eliminating teams like the 2019 Nationals, eventual champions who lost 31 of their first 50 before getting hot. The Giants weren't much better last year. They were 21-29 and somehow already 11 1/2 games out in the NL West. 

In the 50th game last season, Drew Pomeranz started and saw his ERA rise to 6.45. Joe Panik was the leadoff hitter that day, Tyler Austin batted third and Mac Williamson played left field. Mike Yastrzemski had not yet been called up. 

Over an actual 50-game season, you would expect some wild swings in stats -- perhaps someone batting .400 or posting a 1.30 ERA -- but there were no Giants last year who would have clearly benefited. Pablo Sandoval led the 50-game Giants with a .304 average and was tied with Brandon Belt with seven homers. Jeff Samardzija led the starting staff with a 3.27 ERA. 

There were no crazy outliers. The 50-game Giants were pretty boring in 2019.

82 Games

In theory, an 82-game season should put the Giants on the fringes of the playoff race. They don't have the talent to stick with the Dodgers or even the Diamondbacks for 162 games, but cut that season in half and some crazy stuff might happen. You remember that spirited run last summer, right? 

Well, in an 82-game season the Giants would need to get into gear a bit earlier than they did last year. That July stretch got them briefly thinking about the Wild Card race and altered their deadline strategy, but it also started a few days after the midpoint of the season. At 82 games, the Giants were 35-47 and had the second-worst record in the National League. 

At the halfway (plus one) point, Sandoval led the Giants in WAR and was tied with Belt and Kevin Pillar at 10 homers. Alex Dickerson, just called up, was batting .367. Shaun Anderson (3.86 ERA) looked like he might be locking down a future rotation spot. Again, there aren't really wild swings here, though. 

114 Games

Now we're talking. The Giants got going last July, briefly thrusting themselves back into the playoff race. On August 6 they were 56-58, just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot. The Giants got off to a rough start last year and ultimately finished well out of the race, but for a brief moment there -- one that included the proposed 114-game mark -- they were frisky. 

From a player standpoint, not much sticks out. Yastrzemski was the main benefactor of the season going past 114 games, as he had 10 homers at this point and would double that total. We had not yet been introduced to Mauricio Dubon or Tyler Rogers. 

[RELATED: Gabe Kapler encouraged by players speaking up]

To give you a true idea of what a 114- game season looks like, consider that the Giants released Panik on this day last year. A season of this length is plenty long, but there's also a good stretch left to play, and that's shown in the playoff races. 

If the 2019 season had ended after 114 games, the Phillies and Cubs would have snuck into the picture. Gabe Kapler likely would have kept his job. Instead, he's with the Giants, trying to figure out what his team might look like over 50 games, 82, or perhaps even 114. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow declares 'it is our duty to protest'

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow declares 'it is our duty to protest'

Mike Krukow knows how to get people's attention. Ever since he went from the field to the broadcast booth for the Giants, Krukow's unique voice has carried weight. 

Krukow made his voice loud and clear Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show when he spoke on the protests across the world stemming from the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in police custody in Minneapolis. An impassioned Krukow stated his disgust for police brutality as someone whose family has a long history in law enforcement.

“My dad was a cop, my grandfather was a cop. All my uncles were cops. My sister was a cop,” Krukow said. “What we have seen in the death of George Floyd sickens me to the core. I’m just completely rocked about this. It is our duty to protest. It is not our duty to loot, that is as disgusting as the crime itself. But it is our duty to stand and you gotta say, ‘This is wrong.’ You have to do it. We’re being asked to tone down the rhetoric in our press, and that is B.S. Now more than ever the outrage has to be written. And it has to be written by us. By you and me, we have to write our letters to our congressmen and our congresswomen and our senators and the president, you gotta let everybody know you’re not happy. This cannot go on. This is disgusting.

“This is 2020 and we are watching this, this senseless murder of a man who could not defend himself and was saying as he laid down on the ground, ‘I can’t breathe.’ It’s appalling.

“You have to tell your children and you have to tell your grandchildren, ‘This is not right.’ Let them see how mad you are. Let them see how disgusted you are. That’s the only thing we can do. We can protest this, we have to. This is not right. I’m not well with this and I don’t know anyone who is. It’s disgusting.

“All of my friends, it’s all we’re talking about. This has just gone on too far. We can’t be silent now. We cannot. You’ve gotta protest. You’ve gotta say everything that you mean and mean it. And put it on paper and send it out and let your children and grandchildren see how upset you are.”

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

After calling for more protesting and disavowing looting, Krukow, 68, spoke on the side of police officers and law enforcement as well. He clearly is sickened by Floyd's death, and also is against any violence towards police as well. 

“I fear for the safety of our police,” Krukow said. “It’s not easy. It’s harder now than it ever has been. When you have a badge, you’ve gotta wear it responsibly. You cannot use it to be a bully or be a murderer. You can’t.

“It sickens the people who do police work for a living. They watch this as we watch this. They know how hard it is out there and perhaps they’ve seen things that none of us have ever even dreamt of. What we watched in the death of George Floyd, it’s absurd -- it’s how does this happen? How do we let this happen in our society? It’s so upsetting. It’s upsetting to everybody. It does not justify looting. It doesn’t. It should encourage protest. I totally believe that is what we have to do.

“The looting is not right. That’s just criminal. Now our police are more at risk than ever. Our society right now -- think about 2020, this year sucks. It absolutely sucks.

"We’re watching something now and going through an experience together as we have done so well together in dealing with COVID, and now we need to come together and we need to resolve what’s going on across this country.”

[RELATED: Kapler encouraged by MLB players speaking against racism]

With protests happening throughout the Bay Area, the Giants boarded up windows at Oracle Park on Monday. 

San Francisco implemented a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. PT on Monday, which lasted until 5 a.m. Tuesday.