Farhan Zaidi watched the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft from a suite at Oracle Park, with two Giants mugs a couple of feet away and "Black Lives Matter" signs on either side of him. As the Giants went on the clock, Zaidi leaned back against a sectional and looked out at the field with his cell phone in one hand and a tablet on his lap.
The Giants' president of baseball operations looked very much like a man who knew all of the mock drafts had been wrong. He also looked very much like the relaxed executive who has tried to buck conventional wisdom since being introduced three floors down a couple of years ago.
When you know that all the mock drafts were wrong pic.twitter.com/PL0vWsTu1l— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 11, 2020
The Giants took hitters with nine of their first 10 selections a year ago, and they now boast one of the best collections of slugging prospects in the game. They desperately need high-upside pitching talent, arms that can grow with Joey Bart, their first-round selection just two years ago. There were plenty of pitching options when the Giants came up at No. 13 in the MLB draft, a spot they hope they're nowhere near in future years.
So naturally, with that coveted pick, they chose Patrick Bailey, a catcher from North Carolina State.
This was a reminder of two things. First, in the MLB draft, you always, always go with the best player available according to your draft board. You get into trouble if you stray from that plan.
It also was a reminder that Zaidi, scouting director Michael Holmes and the rest of the Giants' front office don't really care about what the outside world thinks they should do. They are building a big league roster that will be flexible and a better fit for the modern game.
Mauricio Dubon is learning how to play center. Austin Slater carried half a dozen gloves around all spring. There will be openers. There might not be a set closer. There will be four-man outfield alignments. Bart, when he arrives, will do work at other defensive positions.
The thought always has been that would allow Bart to split time with Buster Posey, but there's life after Posey, too. The Giants hope to enter that scary world with two of the best catchers in the game, as Bailey should soon join Bart atop prospect lists. They know more than anyone how important a strong catcher is, and they now have two shots at replacing Posey's presence for years to come.
This is where Posey, who still has barely any grays in his sideburns, would point out that he just turned 33, not 43. And you know what? If he's still an All-Star-caliber catcher in three years, Bart is a star and Bailey is ready for the big leagues, the Giants will have a hell of a good problem on their hands.
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You never can have enough catching, something Zaidi's Los Angeles Dodgers focused on as they built the National League's perennial front-runners. The Dodgers had Yasmani Grandal behind the plate and Austin Barnes as a good option coming up, but they still took Will Smith in the first round of the 2016 draft. He looks like a budding star, and the Dodgers have two more good catching prospects still coming through their system.
The Giants are trying to chase them down in the NL West, and Bailey will join a farm system that now is loaded with offensive talent and could be top-five within a year. He gets plus grades from scouts for his defensive work, and has been calling games since high school, a trait that also stood out to the Giants when they drafted Bart second overall. Bailey has a solid eye and above-average raw power from both sides of the plate.
Oh, also, he does things like this.
Here's the newest Giant, Patrick Bailey. A catcher and Bat Flip King. pic.twitter.com/20syCdpiaa— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 11, 2020
A new generation is coming to Oracle Park. There will be bat flips and youth, and that's what the organization could use after some stale years. But there also will be a reminder of the path that led to three titles.
You can never have too much good catching, and the Giants now are as well-stocked as anyone.