What you need to know as Giants prepare to pick second in 2018 MLB Draft


What you need to know as Giants prepare to pick second in 2018 MLB Draft

SAN FRANCISCO — The most important thing you need to know about what the Giants are thinking ahead of tonight’s draft is this: Nobody ever knows what they’re thinking.

Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans, John Barr and the rest guard their draft preferences more closely than anything else. For better or worse, the Giants tend to surprise on draft night. 

They have not, generally, had that much success with prospects in recent years. But sometimes they surprise the industry and it turns out they were right on the mark. Seven years ago, with the 29th overall pick, they selected a shortstop out of St. John’s who wasn’t considered even a second-rounder by most draft experts. One prominent draft writer tweeted that the kid would be a utility infielder. 

It turns out Joe Panik is pretty good. 

Last year, the Giants surprised everyone by taking Heliot Ramos in the middle of the first round, and they feel they got a steal there, too. There’s a decent chance tonight will be unpredictable. But there’s a lot we do know. Here’s a rundown… 

When is the draft? MLB Network and will start pre-draft coverage at 3 p.m. and the actual draft will begin at 4 p.m. Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A (this is a real thing) will air live and coverage will move online for Round 2. The second day of the draft (Tuesday) will feature Round 3-10. The next day will be rapid-fire from Round 11-40. There are four minutes between picks in Round 1, so the Giants should have their top selection well before manager Bruce Bochy does his daily media session at 4:30. 

Why are the Giants picking second? Because 2017 was a slow, lifeless march to 98 losses, during which the lineup failed to hit for power, the bullpen piled up blown saves, the ace crashed on an off day, the other ace had the worst year of his career, and every call-up got hurt. Oh, and on the final day, Pablo Sandoval hit a walk-off to avoid a 99th loss. So the Detroit Tigers will pick first. The Phillies, White Sox and Reds round out the top five. The Giants will make their second round selection at No. 45 after the compensatory rounds. 

Have the Giants picked this high before? Yes, and it worked out! This is their highest pick since 1985, when they chose Will Clark second overall. Clark hit .299 in eight years with the Giants, with 176 homers and 709 RBI, and changed the outlook of the franchise. The last time they picked in the top five the Giants took Buster Posey out of Florida State. 

What’s the success rate for No. 2 picks? Justin Verlander, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Kris Bryant and Alex Bregman are among the players selected second overall in the past two decades. So are Dustin Ackley, Danny Hultzen and Greg Reynolds. It's a bit of a crapshoot. But if you choose the right guy, there's a very good chance he will move up through the minors quickly. 

Who do the experts think the Giants will take? The consensus is that the Giants are leaning toward Joey Bart, a right-handed catcher from Georgia Tech. He hit .359 this season with a .471 on-base percentage and 16 homers in 57 starts. 

But will they take him? As mentioned above, it’s foolish to connect the Giants to a specific player. Did you see a Giants scout right behind the plate at a college game? Well, Dick Tidrow was hiding behind a tree at a high school game somewhere else and that's what really matters. 

A few draft experts have written that Bart can be the succession plan to Buster Posey, but that’s flawed thinking. Posey is signed through 2021 and the Giants are in no rush to move him to first, in part because he still is elite behind the plate and in part because the team’s actual best hitter plays first base. Also, remember this: The top of the draft is generally about "best player available," but the men making this selection might not have much time to turn this mess around, and it seems unlikely that they would select someone who would be blocked at the big league level for years. 

So, what’s the prediction? The front office has gone dark in recent weeks, but some sources believe the Giants are leaning toward a college pitcher. Casey Mize is expected to go first overall, so the pick here is Brady Singer, a right-hander from Florida. 

Will Ryan Vogelsong be involved? Of course. Vogey and Mike Murphy, the legend, will represent the Giants at the MLB Network Studio in New Jersey. Vogelsong, selected in the fifth round of the 1998 draft, has been doing some work for the front office recently.

Former Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson quickly finds new home in NL West


Former Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson quickly finds new home in NL West

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi plans to overhaul the 40-man roster, which means plenty of additions, but also a number of familiar faces signing elsewhere. Two players who were taken off the roster before Zaidi arrived already have found new homes. 

Kelby Tomlinson, a longtime backup infielder, signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, per Chris Cotillo of Casey Kelly, who made a cameo in the Giants rotation last season, announced on his Instagram page that he'll play in South Korea next season. 

Tomlinson played in 273 games over parts of four seasons with the Giants before they outrighted him off the roster in October to clear a 40-man spot. He had a .265/.331/.332 slash line while playing all over the infield and occasionally filling in as a left fielder. Tomlinson was a bit of a fan favorite and his specs became a rallying cry on social media when he he contributed. He also was a favorite of Bruce Bochy, who called him Tommy Ball this season. 

[RELATED: How Giants prospect Abiatal Avelino fits Farhan Zaidi player prototype]

Zaidi likely will add more versatility to the roster this offseason, but the Giants already have two players who had passed Tomlinson on the depth chart. Alen Hanson is a good bet for the Opening Day roster next season and Abiatal Avelino saw some time in September. 

Kelly, a former top prospect, filled in for the Giants late in the year and had a 3.04 ERA in seven appearances. The 29-year-old will play for the LG Twins in the KBO next season. 

Why Mike Krukow believes Giants won't trade Madison Bumgarner in offseason

Why Mike Krukow believes Giants won't trade Madison Bumgarner in offseason

Since they're never in the headlines and such an obscure team, the Yankees made the first big waves of the MLB offseason by trading their top prospect Justus Sheffield to the Mariners for James Paxton.

Though this trade was between two American League teams, it affects the Giants in multiple ways. It essentially eliminates the Yankees as a suitor in a possible Madison Bumgarner trade, and it sets the bar on what the Giants could ask for in return for their ace.

"I think there's a lot of teams out there that would love to have him [Bumgarner.] Atlanta, I think, would sit at the top of the list. I don't think he's gonna get moved," Krukow said Tuesday on KNBR. "I really don't. I don't think Bumgarner's going anywhere." 

Recent decline in velocity and batters hitting him harder and harder, show the Giants may need to explore trading Bumgarner sooner than later. But Krukow believes if the Giants do make the move it will be closer to the trade deadline of the 2019 season. The biggest barometer for him, however, was the 2018 trade deadline.

"I think if they were gonna move guys, in regards to Bumgarner, they would have done it last year when teams had two years of control. But once it got past that, I think his chances got slimmer, and slimmer," Krukow said. 

[RELATED: Zaidi says 'Everything has to be on the table']

Bumgarner becomes a free agent after the 2019 season, where he will be 30 years old, which is the same age as Paxton. With his team-friendly eight-year, $58.06 million deal coming to an end the Giants essentially have three options: 1) Re-sign Bumgarner this offseason. 2) Trade Bumgarner this offseason or at the trade deadline in 2019. 3) Play out the 2019 season with hopes they can re-sign him during the offseason. 

The last two seasons, where the left-handers has dealt with injuries from a dirt bike accident and a line drive to his hand in spring training, Bumgarner has only made 38 starts. He's gone 10-16 with a 3.29 ERA over that span. Giants fans differ on what the team should do with him, but the majority lean towards San Francisco securing the postseason hero. 

And so does Krukow. 

"Just like any other Giants fan, I don't ever want to see the guy ever wear another uniform. I just don't think it's gonna happen this winter," Krukow said.