Giants

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

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GEORGIA TECH/AP

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 MLB.com 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.

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

Yasiel Puig got two games for punching Nick Hundley in the mask. Jose Ureña got six games for throwing at Ronald Acuña’. Nobody is happy on any side.
 
And that, ladies and jellyspoons, is baseball justice, now and forever.
 
But it is also sports justice, which is typically very flexible when it comes to precedent anyway, save for drug suspensions, which are covered under the collective bargaining agreement.
 
Puig got his two as part of his ongoing feud with the San Francisco Giants, and theirs with him. Hundley chastised Puig for being unhappy with a pitch he missed, and Puig, remembering all the cheery times he has had against the Giants, responded in more than kind. As a result of the brawl he helped inflame, he will have to go to the trouble of losing his appeal of a two-game suspension while Hundley was merely fined for acting like everyone’s dean of students. And you know the dean of students at your school was so beloved.
 
By now, though, it is clear that Puig and the Giants have issues, and there seems no impetus on any side to make them go away. In other words, the punishments may or may not have fit the crime, but it is clearly not meant as a deterrent. It certainly won’t be one for Hundley or the Giants, who have made Puig a long-running personal cause.

Me, I'd give Hundley two games along with Puig, and fine both teams $10 million and tell them, "Make this nonsense stop." Then again, commissioners don't get to take big money to teams without paying a price down the road, which is why I would have to be named imperial emperor to have that kind of pull.

In other words, this will happen again.
 
As for Ureña, his six games (or one start) will be regarded as a gift from MLB for what looked to all the world like a purposeful beanball attempt. The length of the suspension is probably mitigated further by the fact that Acuña played Thursday against Colorado.
 
But the more interesting notion is that MLB decided not to guess on Ureña’s intent, because intent can’t be proven, and if baseball wanted to go down that particular rabbit hole, it would be in court in no time having to defend breaking precedent so violently for something that must be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players.
 
That is not yet a fight the owners seem to want to have – not when there are so many others to employ between now and the time negotiations begin before the 2021 deadline.
 
In addition, baseball does not throw large suspensions around as a general rule. If you take out the drug-related suspensions (either recreational or performance-based), the longest suspensions on record for a player are Roberto Osuna’s 75 games for domestic violence (which he has denied while accepting the suspension for the thing he said he didn’t do, if that makes sense to you), and Lenny Randle’s 30 days for punching out Texas manager Pat Corrales in 1977, when Randle was a Ranger himself.
 
But the Ureña/Acuña case is about player safety (as opposed to the usually tedious old school/new school arguments that remind us that we make generations hate each other as part of the gross national product), which one would think the union would be interested in enhancing and defending.
 
Player safety should matter, of course, but the distrust between the sides runs so deep that any introduction of language that allows the MLB mall cops to judge someone’s intent as binding evidence would become a war in its own right. The sides would rather play negotiation chicken and hope no players get maimed or worse playing “Name That Unwritten Rule.”
 
Which is why Ureña only misses one start, even though it seems about three starts too light. As for Puig and the Giants, well, September 28 in San Francisco, no later than the fifth inning. If baseball can’t get into the world of intent, it has no chance with a hatred that never seems to die.

Yasiel Puig suspended, Nick Hundley fined for Dodgers-Giants fight

Yasiel Puig suspended, Nick Hundley fined for Dodgers-Giants fight

Major League Baseball suspended Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig for two games Thursday for fighting and inciting a bench-clearing incident in Tuesday's Giants vs. Dodgers game. 

Giants catcher Nick Hundley was not suspended for the fight. Hundley was fined an undisclosed amount of money for his role in the fight. Puig was also fined an undisclosed amount. 

After Tuesday night's game, Hundley was asked if he expects any punishment for himself or Puig from the league. 

“I was defending myself. He was defending himself. I don’t see why it should go any further than that,” Hundley said

Puig's suspension will begin Friday when the Dodgers face the Mariners. If Puig appeals the suspension and loses, it will begin once the process is complete.