Giants

Giants

You probably know the names. The ones that got away.

Aaron Judge. Rhys Hoskins. Joc Pederson. They're just some of the locals who grew up in Giants territory, got drafted by other organizations, and went on to become big-time contributors in the majors.

Baseball's draft is unlike any other, and there's no way to guarantee that you soak up the best local talent. Sure, that connection might make you more sure you can sign a lifelong Giants fan like Brandon Crawford after spending a high draft pick, but teams cast a wide net every spring.

Still, as soon as he got the job at Oracle Park, Farhan Zaidi talked of making sure the Giants had a close eye on the best local talent. Zaidi and Michael Holmes backed that up in their first draft, taking former Serra High (San Mateo) outfielder Hunter Bishop with the 10th overall pick. Seventh-rounder Armani Smith is from Concord. Four of the Giants' first 10 selections last year were from California, and they hope to keep that going in this year's draft, which begins Wednesday afternoon.

"You never want to get beat in your backyard," Zaidi recently said on KNBR. "That's a common refrain in scouting, and it's going to be even more true in this situation, where it's going to be really competitive and you're going to have to look for any place you might have an edge for a player."

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This year's draft is an anomaly, a five-round process that will be followed by free agency, where teams can sign undrafted players for $20,000. In general, the Giants will do what they have always done. You take the best player available in baseball, knowing that it will take at least three years for him to reach the big leagues and your roster situation will have changed by then.

But when it's a coin flip, it makes sense to skew local.

The Giants have area scouts across the country, but they certainly have an edge in researching the best local players, something that'll be especially important this year given the lack of a spring season for colleges and high schools. If a player is a tough sign, it helps to offer to bring him home and put him in the jersey he grew up cheering for. It could benefit you for years down the line, too.

Crawford got a big extension at his peak, but he also was thrilled to sign early with his hometown team, avoiding the free agency process.

If the Giants want to stay local this year, they'll have plenty of options. Turlock High School catcher Tyler Soderstrom is the position player most often connected to the Giants. De La Salle (Concord) lefty Kyle Harrison and Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) shortstop Nick Yorke also are ranked among Baseball America's top 100.

Even if the Giants don't use one of their seven picks on a NorCal prospect, they'll be targeting undrafted locals. When you're capped at $20,000, you're much more likely to choose the team you grew up rooting for and opt to stay close to home.

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"Certainly in your home region, where somebody is likely to have grown up a Giants fan, that certainly gives you an advantage in what's going to be a real recruiting effort," Zaidi said. "We're casting a wide net and we're certainly going to target the most talented players around the country, but definitely want to have an emphasis on local players.

"That's been something we've tried to do over the last couple of years anyway, and I think in this market you've got a better chance of getting to the finish line with a guy that probably has grown up a fan of your team and probably wants to put on that uniform."