NEW YORK -- For the first time in 50 years, the Giants went with nine position players in their first 10 picks of the 2019 MLB Draft. They didn't take a pitcher until the eighth round, which gives a clear indication of what the plan -- rightfully -- was going into this draft, but also puts some pressure on the 2018 class.
The Giants don't just have gaps in their lineup. They also are missing frontline starters in their system and could have a gaping hole at the big league level if they trade Madison Bumgarner. Any deal could bring back a top pitching prospect, and the Giants may also benefit from trading the likes of Will Smith and Tony Watson.
For now, their future is in large part dependent on the pitcher-heavy 2018 draft class, which was led by a catcher. Before the 2019 class starts to sign, here's a look at how last year's draftees are doing a year into their pro careers:
Joey Bart (first round)
He's the best catching prospect in the minors, had a nice stretch in big league camp, and has consistently dominated minor league pitching. Bart hit 13 homers in short-season ball last year and has a .300/.378/.625 slash line in 11 games for the San Jose Giants. He has missed most of the season after taking a pitch off the hand, but homered Tuesday night in his return to the lineup.
The injury may have cost Bart a September call-up, but scouts rave about his defense, and that should allow him to move quickly. He should be in the big leagues early next season, and could push for an Opening Day role.
Sean Hjelle (second round)
The 6-foot-11 right-hander was recently promoted from Augusta to San Jose. Hjelle, 22, had a 2.66 ERA in nine Low-A starts with more than a strikeout per inning. He has allowed eight runs -- five earned -- in 11 innings for San Jose so far.
The most encouraging thing about his line is the lack of walks; you would think someone his size would have issues repeating his delivery, but Hjelle is averaging just two walks per nine innings in 23 minor league starts.
Jake Wong (third round)
The right-hander had some sleeper buzz when he was taken last year and has dominated the low minors so far. Wong, 22, had a 1.99 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in Augusta and has allowed seven runs in 16 innings with San Jose. He has 77 strikeouts in 84 minor league innings and has held hitters to a .219 average.
Pitchers move slower, so you can expect Hjelle and Wong to spend the whole year in San Jose.
Blake Rivera, Keaton Winn, Solomon Bates, Ben Madison
The Giants took seven college right-handers with their first 10 picks, and the majority of this group is at Augusta. Bates, pitching out of the bullpen, had the most eye-popping stats and is now in San Jose.
He had 41 strikeouts and and two unintentional walks in 26 innings with Augusta.
Patrick Hilson, Edison Mora
These were the other two position players taken in the top 10 rounds, but both teenagers are far from the big leagues. Hilson, an 18-year-old outfielder, played short-season ball last year and is currently working out at the facility in Arizona.
Mora, an 18-year-old shortstop, also is in extended spring training. Their season starts in a couple of weeks.
The 22-year-old third baseman went under the radar last summer because of Bart's demolition for Salem-Keizer, but Villar also hit 13 homers. The 11th-round pick started this season in San Jose and enters play Wednesday with a .242/.305/.375 slash line and three homers.
The 15th-round pick out of UNC Greensboro pitched well in Augusta in April and was quickly promoted to San Jose, where he has a 4.25 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in six starts. The right-hander has 36 strikeouts and just five walks in 29 2/3 innings for San Jose.