Kyle Harrison

Giants sign lefty Kyle Harrison, completing their 2020 MLB Draft class

Giants sign lefty Kyle Harrison, completing their 2020 MLB Draft class

There might not have been a team with more at stake in last month's draft than the Giants, who had a league-high seven picks and are still a class or two away from competing with the best farm systems in their division. It'll take a few years to find out if Michael Holmes and his scouting staff nailed their picks, but they've at least cleared the first hurdle. 

Left-hander Kyle Harrison, a highly-ranked prep pitcher from De La Salle, officially signed Thursday, meaning the Giants have inked their entire class. Harrison reportedly received $2.5 million, which is well over the slot value for the 85th selection, but the Giants were able to move money around to make sure they had a full class, which includes a pitcher who may be one of the steals of the draft. 

Harrison was a first-round talent on some boards but had a strong commitment to UCLA. Some teams felt he would be difficult to sign, but he fell to the third round and the Giants scooped him up with their fifth pick. Harrison went 21-1 with a 1.19 ERA at De La Salle, including 10-0 with a 1.26 ERA as a junior. He didn't allow a run last summer on the USA U-18 World Cup team, striking out 12 in 10 innings.

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It's unclear what the next step will be for most signees since the minor league season has been canceled, but the Giants have been confident that they can get good workout plans to pitchers, who can more easily stay in form. First-rounder Patrick Bailey was the one 2020 pick who was invited to camp. Bailey has been taking part in intrasquad games and will spend the next two months at the secondary site in Sacramento. 

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Why most of Giants' reported MLB draft contracts are under slot value

Why most of Giants' reported MLB draft contracts are under slot value

With last month's MLB draft being shortened to just five rounds, front offices had to get creative to try and get the most bang for their buck. On Thursday we got a better idea of what the Giants' plan was with their league-high seven selections. 

The Giants announced that three additional picks had signed Thursday, and according to MLB.com's Jim Callis, two of them came in well under the slot value for their selection. 

The Giants also have signed second-rounder Casey Schmitt, although it's unclear what his bonus was. On Wednesday, first-round pick Patrick Bailey signed, and he also reportedly came in under the slot value of the 13th pick. 

The Giants had $9,231,800 to spend on their seven selections and thus far have announced the signing of four of them. If you add up the savings of the known bonuses, they're about $1.1 million under slot. Where is that being made up? With a local player, who was viewed by many in the industry as too tough to sign.

De La Salle left-hander Kyle Harrison went in the third round in part because it was thought it would be hard to get him out of a commitment to UCLA. Harrison was picked 85th overall by the Giants and, while they haven't announced a deal yet, he reportedly will sign for $2.5 million, which was the slot value for the 28th pick in the first round. 

That figure, if it ends up being his signing number, is nearly $1.8 million more than the slot value for Harrison's pick, and the Giants had to get to that amount by making cuts elsewhere. It's a strategy that was clear during the draft, as some of their other picks were viewed as slight reaches by opposing scouts. 

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It's a gamble, but a worthwhile one. If the Giants are right about Harrison, they've added a first-round talent to their organization and potentially have filled a future hole in their rotation. In order to make the numbers work, they simply used some of their other picks on players who might have gone slightly higher than they expected and would sign for a lesser number. 

While the Giants have not yet announced that Harrison deal, they are confident that all seven of their selections will sign. 

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Giants pick Kyle Harrison earned Chris Sale comparison at De La Salle

Giants pick Kyle Harrison earned Chris Sale comparison at De La Salle

When the Giants selected Kyle Harrison in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft, David Jeans was doing what he does best: Coaching baseball. 

Jeans, who coached Harrison for three seasons at De La Salle High School in Concord, was at a baseball facility in the East Bay with a handful of his players when Harrison was drafted. Just like Harrison's teammates, Jeans couldn't have been happier for his left-handed ace. But, he was a bit surprised. 

The bewilderment had nothing to do with Harrison's skills, though. Far from it. 

"I thought if he wouldn't go in the top of the second round, I didn't think he would get to his number," Jeans said to NBC Sports Bay Area in a phone interview. "So it caught me by surprise a little bit, but I'm not surprised a team wanted him so bad." 

The Giants clearly saw Harrison as much more than a third-round talent. Harrison, a Scott Boras client and UCLA commit, reportedly agreed to a $2.5 million signing bonus, which is well above slot for the No. 85 pick in the draft.

Jeans spoke to a handful of teams before the draft. Scouts would ask about Harrison's competitiveness, attitude and how his teammates felt about him. The coach says his star checked every box with ease. 

The Giants were eyeing Harrison for quite some time, too. Harrison's senior season was cut short due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the Giants had been holding Zoom meetings with him for quite some time. His coach believes everything couldn't have worked out any better for the lefty.

"It actually worked out perfectly," Jeans said. "You can't argue with the San Francisco Giants. Their minor league teams are in San Jose and Sacramento and spring training's in Arizona, so it kind of just worked out for the local guy."

Harrison's season on the field couldn't have gone any better, either. Before baseball was shut down, he dominated for the Spartans, going 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his two starts this year. Over nine innings pitched, Harrison allowed one earned run on two hits and struck out 18 batters.

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The 6-foot-2 lefty was seen as one of the most polished pitching prospects in the entire draft. He throws from a funky three-quarters arm slot, sits in the low 90s with his fastball and has a deadly breaking ball. The 18-year-old models his game after Boston Red Sox ace and seven-time All-Star Chris Sale, and Jeans could see the comparison every time Harrison stepped on the mound. 

"He's not as fiery as Madison Bumgarner on the mound," Jeans said. "He's competitive, but Kyle doesn't yell and scream. He doesn't do that kind of stuff. He's a super competitor. He's quiet but he has confidence in his ability. He thinks he can beat anybody and he just goes about his business.

"Chris Sale, his mechanics are very similar. As a left-handed hitter, it's tough to hit against him."

What makes it even more impossible for left-handed hitters to get the best of Harrison is his devastating slider, which makes the Sale comparison that much more spot on. The pitch nearly is unhittable, just take a look. 

"For a left-handed hitter, it looks like it's coming from behind your back," Jeans said. "You have to catch it early or it's going to disappear on you. For a left-handed hitter, when you have 91 miles per hour, 92 miles per hour running in on your hands and then you have to be aware of the slider away.

"You have to cover both sides of the plate, and that's tough to do." 

San Francisco's scouts and front office certainly were enthralled with Harrison's elite offspeed pitch. Matt Daniels, the Giants' coordinator of pitching sciences, tweeted out how excited he was to work with the prep star and his breaking ball soon after the selection was made.

Harrison's fastball, slurvy breaking ball and developing changeup helped him lose a grand total of one game in his high school career. He went 21-1 with a 1.19 ERA over three years on varsity while striking out 192 batters in 124 innings pitched. His career was one for the ages at a school known for non-stop winning. 

As a junior, he went a perfect 10-0 with a 1.26 ERA, racking up 103 strikeouts in 61 innings. Harrison struck out 10 batters in 5 1/3 innings to win the North Coast Section championship, topping off De La Salle's 29-1 season, and was named NorCal Baseball Pitcher of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. But there's one award he didn't win that still doesn't sit well with his coach. 

Harrison lost out on the California Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior to Turlock High School's Tyler Soderstrom, who was selected by the A's in the first round of the draft this year.

"I know Soderstrom's a great kid. He got state Player of the Year this year, but his team never won a championship," Jeans said. "That's not a knock against him. Kyle was able to bring a winning mentality to guys around him. That's something that the Giants have to look forward to.

"You want guys who want to win. You can't just draft talent. I think the Giants did a great job of that."

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That's exactly what Jeans wants Giants fans to know about Kyle Harrison. The numbers speak for themselves. The accolades are great, so is playing for Team USA and multiple All-American games.

What Jeans reiterated throughout our conversation, however, was how much Harrison "bought in." He was announced during the draft at 200 pounds, but his coach says he's up to 215 after living in De La Salle's weight room. They made sure to limit his innings and he never complained. They took him out of no-hitters and he handed them the ball without argument. 

"He'll be a Giant true and true. He'll want to win all the time. He's a winner," Jeans said. "The No. 1 thing Giants fans should know about Kyle is, he wants to win. It's not about him, it's not about the numbers. He wants to win."

That's better than any Player of the Year trophy. It's better than having your name called in the first round. Maybe there's a reason a giant hole on his trophy case is waiting to be filled. 

In a year full of curveballs moving every which way, Harrison stuck to the plan and his coach believes it brought him exactly where he belongs.