A's Khris Davis, Giants' Kevin Pillar once were underrated as prospects


A's Khris Davis, Giants' Kevin Pillar once were underrated as prospects

Where were some of the biggest names in baseball before they were the big names?

We could glance at Baseball Reference to see what schools they attended, and when they were drafted, but when it comes to what happened after the draft, some of them didn't get much respect -- at least in regard to being named top prospects.

For starters, when Oakland A's designated hitter Khris Davis was first scouted when he was a seventh-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Cal State Fullerton in 2009, they weren't too keen on his base-running and fielding ability. That was rather accurate, according to's Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum. But it was his hitting that stood out, and ultimately led to his success.

"He never ranked higher than 13th on the Brewers' Top Prospects list, but that one tool got him to the big leagues and resulted in 133 homers in his first three seasons in Oakland before he tailed off this year," Callis and Rosenbaum write.

Now, we know Davis is not having a season that he's used to at the plate.

Davis is hitting .227/.300/.389 with 17 home runs. The 2018 home run leader recently mentioned he's aware of his performance at the plate. But he's still helping the A's, who can see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the postseason.

Across the bay, Kevin Pillar had a similar situation happen to him.

The Giants outfielder went undrafted as a junior in 2010 even though he set an NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hitting streak at Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2010. A year later, he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 32nd round and he signed for ... $1,000.

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"He didn't move the prospect needle much after winning low Class-A Midwest League honors in his first full pro season, climbing only as high as No. 15 on MLB Pipeline's Blue Jays Top 30, yet he has carved out a career as one of the better defensive center fielders in the big leagues."

They call him Superman for a reason.

And that $1,000 he earned originally? Well, Pillar's making $5.8 million this season. 

Giants GM Scott Harris grew up Cubs fan, brother favored San Francisco

Giants GM Scott Harris grew up Cubs fan, brother favored San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Scott Harris said goodbye to family members on Monday, a Giants employee walked over and dropped off two big bags full of jerseys and orange-and-black gear.

One of his parents needed to load up on the gifts more than the other. 

Harris grew up in Redwood City with a mother who is a Giants fan, but his father, who is from Chicago, is a diehard Chicago Cubs fan. When it came time to pass on their rooting interests, they came up with an easy solution for their children.

"They divided the sons," Scott said, smiling. "I was raised a Cubs fan and my brother was raised a Giants fan, which put my nephew Teddy in an awkward spot because his dad loves the Giants and his uncle was working for the Cubs. Now at least Teddy has a little more clarity."

As Scott finished telling the story, his brother, Chris, laughed and quickly clapped. This worked out well for half of the Harris family. Scott will try and help his mother and brother's favorite team get back to the postseason, and his father has already benefited from the son's talents. Scott was part of the front office that finally brought a championship to Wrigley. 

On his first full day on the job, Scott talked about what made the Giants such a good fit -- aside from the family's rooting interests. He's excited to be back in the Bay Area and noted that as he took profile pictures under the sun at Oracle Park, the temperature was in the mid-20s back in Chicago. Harris has also been through a winter in New York, so he was thrilled to be working back in the Bay Area. The entire Harris family was fired up, too. His parents and brother sat in the fourth row for an introductory press conference and then got a tour of the clubhouse. 

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"I want to thank my family for always supporting me and their relentless pursuit of a way to get me back to the Bay Area. It worked, thank you," Harris said as he looked out as his parents and brother. "It's such a privilege to be here. It's a privilege to come back home. It's a privilege to work for a flagship organization with such a passionate and deserving fan base. 

"I grew up in Redwood City and vividly remember learning what the game looks like at the highest level by watching generations of Giants players come through Candlestick and come through this park."

Giants closing in on new manager after hiring Scott Harris as their GM

Giants closing in on new manager after hiring Scott Harris as their GM

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Giants officials and members of the media filed out of the press conference room at Oracle Park on Monday, a team employee reached over and flicked off one set of lights. Nobody bothered to take down the podium or remove the temporary seating. That all might be needed again in a few hours.

The Giants introduced Scott Harris as general manager on Monday and are poised to hold another press conference for their new manager. Harris is in the process of meeting with the remaining candidates and Farhan Zaidi said he would "have significant input into the final decision."

Zaidi said the manager announcement would come this week, and the Giants were internally preparing to introduce a new manager as soon as Tuesday. There are still three known finalists, and no decision had been made as of Monday morning. There are two who have separated from the pack, though. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and Astros bench coach Joe Espada both have high-level supporters in the organization, per sources, and Kapler met with Giants officials again on Monday. He is said to be the frontrunner at this point. 

The search has lasted more than a month now, in part because it ran as the same time as the search for a new GM.

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"Having both of these balls in the air at the same time has made scheduling difficult and tricky at times," Zaidi said. "I'm just really happy that we have been able to get (Harris) in place and he does have that chance to connect with those candidates and provide input and really have a say in the final decision that I expect us to make this week."