Giants Draft Prospectus

Matt Wieters projects as a surefire Top 10 pick.

As the draft nears, it's time to familiarize ourselves with the key players in the pool. Some would be great draft picks, others might not be. Where these guys fall will shape the biggest Giants draft since 1997.

Prospects the Giants Should Target

> Matt Wieters | Catcher | Georgia Tech

There is absolutely no doubting Wieters' talent. He's simply the best college hitter in the draft. He's a switch-hitting catcher with the best polish in the draft and good power. He's also an ex-pitcher with a great arm behind the plate. There are just two knocks against him: his size (being a catcher at 6-foot-5 makes him unlikely to stay there traditionally) and his agent (yep, Scott Boras).

San Francisco Giants fans know how size concerns make great players drop, and contract concerns have some thinking he may drop past the Top 10. Indications, however, are that the Giants will not shy away from contract issues, and if Wieters drops, the Giants will get their second steal at No. 10 in two years.

Great Pick at: No. 10; Won't be there at: No. 22

> Beau Mills | Corner Infielder | Lewis & Clark State

If there's anyone who fits the Giants, it's Mills. Before playing at Lewis & Clark (which sometimes feels like a Giants farm club), he played at Fresno State (down the road from, and former home of, the Giants Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies). He's got the bloodlines the Giants love. His father is ex-major leaguer Brad Mills, currently the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox.

He has plus power to all fields, and is a good overall hitter. There are some questions on defense, but he's a gym rat and works hard. He'll probably end up at first base, but still could play at third if his healing shoulder heals more.

Many projections have him going around No. 10, and the Giants' interest in him is legitimate. He'll surprise no one if he goes to the Giants at No. 10 overall.

Solid Pick at: No. 10; Steal at: No. 22 or later

> Mike Moustakas | Infielder | Chatsworth HS (CA)

At the start of the season, Moustakas' teammate Josh Dominguez was one of the top projected prep players, but Moustakas has passed him by and may be the best prep hitter outside of third baseman Josh Vitters (and some feel he may even be better than Vitters).

Moustakas has had a monster year, healing from an ankle injury suffered while playing football. He plays shortstop now because of Dominguez, but he's probably a third baseman long-term. At third, his quarterback's arm is great and he has solid range. His best plate talent is his power, and his bloodlines (he's the nephew of former New York Mets coach Tom Robson) also have helped him.

He's a risky draft pick, however, because of his agent (yes, Boras) and a strong commitment to nearby USC where he would play with Robert Stock, one of the other best young players in all of baseball.

Solid Pick at: No. 10; Won't Be There at: No. 22

> Jarrod Parker | Right-handed Pitcher | Norwell HS (IN)

Yes the Giants could definitely use hitters, but they will not shy away from a pitcher if he's the right pick. Parker is one of the two high school pitchers the Giants have reportedly been looking at. He's undersized (though at 6-foot-2, he's not that undersized), and has unbelievable velocity. He's hit 97-98 mph with his fastball all season, and some compare his fastball to that guy the Giants drafted at No. 10 overall last year.

However, he doesn't have Tim Lincecum's curveball. He does have a good curve with a slider and a changeup, but the latter pitches all need more work, as he rarely needs them in high school.

Solid Pick at: No. 10; Great pick at: No. 22; Won't Be There at: No. 29

> Blake Beavan | Right-handed Pitcher | Irving HS (TX)

Whereas Parker has the Lincecum comparisons, Beavan has drawn comparisons to Matt Cain. Beavan has a mid-90s mph fastball, and has shown incredible durability over the season. He has an 18-strikeout perfect game on the year, and a 15-strikeout one-hitter in the playoffs. He walked only four batters, while striking out 139 in 73 innings this year.

The major concern is his arm angle, which is a low three-quarters slot that can limit his slider when he gets out of whack, and can tip pitches. Texas has great high school competition, but higher competition will exploit that.

However, those problems can be coached out of him. He's committed to Oklahoma, but is reportedly not going to be a signing issue.

Solid Pick at: No. 10; Great Pick at: No. 22; Probably Won't Be There at: No. 29

> Andrew Brackman | Right-handed Pitcher | North Carolina State

How crazy would it be to have a near 7-foot pitcher and diminutive Lincecum in the same rotation? Brackman, at 6-foot-10, was a highly-respected basketball prospect, but he has given it up to be a pitcher. His height gives him a great angle on his fastball, which sits regularly in the mid-90s but can touch 99 mph. He also has a curveball that, when it is on, is just mean to hitters.

However, Brackman is a raw pitcher with a lot of red flags. He had a problem with tendonitis out of high school, and has been highly inconsistent this year, mostly problems coming out of his mechanics. He has also missed a lot of games recently. He's got incredible talent, but there is incredible bust potential as well.

Risky Pick at: No. 10; Solid Pick at: No. 22, No. 29; Good Pick at: No. 32 or later

> Matt LaPorta | First baseman | Florida

When it comes to college bats, there's Wieters, and then there's Mills and Laporta. LaPorta led the NCAA in home runs as a sophomore in 2005, but an oblique injury in 2006 cost him a top draft pick.

He was drafted in the 14th round, but with bonus demands, he stayed in college rather than go to the Boston Red Sox. It was a good decision, as he has led the nation in slugging and on-base plus slugging percentage. He has become a better contact hitter while keeping his power.

There are significant concerns about his defense, and although he was a catcher early in his career, he's going to be limited to first base, at best, in the pros. And there's the Boras factor. Some have him going in the Top 10, but he could slip into the 20-25 range.

Solid Pick at: No. 10; Great Pick at: No. 22; Won't Be There at: No. 29

> Casey Weathers | Right-handed Pitcher | Vanderbilt

Weathers has become the top closer in college ball, and has good control of his fastball, which has developed into a mid-to-high 90s pitch. He also has a power slider that can get into the 90s, though it needs better consistency.

College closers are always a risk, but can pay off in being easy signings and quick movers to the pros. That's not something the Giants will take lightly, especially with a still-uncertain bullpen situation as Armando Benitez is a free agent after this year and is nearly certain to leave, and the backup options are currently less-than-enthusiastic.

Too Early at: No. 10; Solid Pick at: No. 22, No. 29; Good Pick at: No. 32; Steal at: No. 43 or later

> Michael Burgess | Outfielder | Hillsborough HS (FL)

Burgess took a tumble this year as he has been having problems with just making contact, negating his huge power (possibly the best of any high school hitter). He has also faltered under some heavy media attention, considering his school's pedigree (Gary Sheffield and Dwight Gooden are just the tip of Hillsborough's Major League alumni iceberg).

Some have him dropped out of the first round and into the supplemental round, however, and unlike many young power hitters who get overrated and overdrafted on potential, that's a good place for him to go. He will be a project and will require some big-time coaching to develop. The Giants have several picks right around that area, and have enough depth in their picks to take a project, however.

Too Early at: No. 22; Solid Pick at: No. 29, No. 32, No. 43; Great Pick at: No. 51

> Aaron Poreda | Left-handed Pitcher | University of San Francisco

The Giants do like taking from the Dons, and the hometown connection has a good chance of happening again. Poreda has one of the top velocities of any left-hander, and like recent USF picks, Poreda is a recent conversion from another position.

However, Poreda's conversion came from defensive end in football to baseball, but he's come a long way. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, and has a lot of potential to grow still. His breaking ball is far behind schedule, however, and may not be a plus pitch. He will need to let his changeup grow into his second pitch, but with his great fastball, that's a definite possibility. Comparisons to current Giants prospect Jonathan Sanchez would not be off-base, though his fastball's movement is much better.

Too Early at: No. 22; Solid Pick at: No. 29,No. 32; Great Pick at: No. 43; Won't Be There: Past the Supplemental Round

> Mitch Canham | Catcher | Oregon State

Canham was considered a first-round pick to start the season, but has fallen, more out of other top prospects improvements than his own problems. Due to a shallow group of middle infielders, but an also considerably shallow group of college hitters overall, Canham could go anywhere from No. 20 to No. 50.

Canham is a good contact hitter, and a rare left-handed hitter at catcher. However, he does have his detractors on defense. He has a lot to learn and improve in the playing at catcher, although he calls a great game and was a significant factor in the Beavers' College World Series win in 2006.

Canham also has outstanding intangibles, as his character grades off the charts. He's a team leader and an inspiration with a lot of off-the-field things that he has endured. He even wrote a rap song that became the championship team's anthem in 2006.

Too Early at: No. 10; Solid Pick at: No. 22, No. 29; Great Pick at: No. 32, No. 43; Steal at: No. 51

> Josh Fields | Right-handed Pitcher | Georgia

Fields entered the season as the main competition to Weathers as a top closer, but has suffered command issues as Weathers has excelled. His slider has been a mid-80s pitch with excellent movement, but it has all but disappeared this year. He does still have a good fastball, throwing mostly in the mid-90s.

He also gets the size concerns at an even 6 feet in height. He does have "closer mentality" and works hard, but he may have played into a tough position when it comes to the Giants.

He's no longer a top choice to move quickly like Weathers could, but could still be a good supplemental round pick. However, he'd be a great value in the second or third rounds, but the Giants won't even have a pick there if he slides.

Solid Pick at: No. 43, 51; Won't Be There: Past the third round

Five 'Busts' in the Making or 'The Giants Should Avoid These Guys'

> Jason Heyward | Outfielder | Henry County HS (GA)

Heyward has gotten a lot of support for his power and plate discipline, and some have compared him to Willie McCovey, but he has some flaws. A cross-checker that spoke to Scout.com indicated he does not use his lower-body enough in his swing, and he can dive into pitches, losing visibility. That will become a problem as he faces more breaking pitches in the pros.

He might be coached out of it, and would be a great supplemental round project, but he's got the heat that may have him picked in the Top 10, and probably won't make it past 25. He's got talent, but it's the kind of bust potential that should be someone else's problem.

> Max Scherzer | Right-handed Pitcher | Not In School

Scherzer has talent, but his contract negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who drafted him last year, have landed him without a contract and likely back into the draft pool. That might bring comparison's to Luke Hochevar, who did that in 2005 and ended up being the top overall pick in 2006, but it wouldn't be accurate.

Scherzer also had health problems that hurt him. He's a fastball-slider pitcher, but he doesn't have enough movement, and some feel he's a closer rather than a starter. For a reported bonus demand of over $3 million, he's not worth the risk and cost.

> Julio Borbon | Outfielder | Tennessee

Borbon broke his ankle just before the season began, and has appeared hounded by it all season long. That, in itself, makes Borbon, ranked by some as the top college outfielder in the draft, a risky pick. But he's also a poor fit for the Giants.

The Giants have drafted a lot of "toolsy," athletic outfielders who have more speed than power recently, and Borbon might be lost in that sort of depth in the Giants system. Yes, he'll probably be a good player, but the Giants wouldn't get great value out of him.

> Mike Mangini | Third baseman | Oklahoma State

Mangini has had a poor season, stemming from a change in his stance that has affected both his ability to hit for contact and hit for power. He seemed valuable before the season began as he was a third baseman and was considered to be one of the more polished college bats. Now that his bat has been questioned, his defense at third, which is average at best, makes him a riskier pick. If he can't stay at third, he's not a great bat and shouldn't be a first round or supplemental round pick.

> Justin Jackson | Shortstop | Roberson HS (NC)

Jackson was another high school prospect who was ranked as a top choice early but has slipped. His best tools are at the plate, where he has very mature plate discipline, and in the field, where he's a flashy shortstop.

But he also has some holes in his swing, and isn't the kind of speed guy that some would expect for the rest of his tools. The Giants drafted four shortstops in the Top 12 rounds in the 2006 draft, and also have the still-talented Marcus Sanders and young Sharlon Schoop in the system, so the middle-infield spots may be the deepest position in the system, and taking a risk like Jackson early would be a waste of a pick in the Top 100 overall.



Love me, hate me, idolize me, or laugh at me, just don't ignore me. Let me know what you think: write me at kevin@sfdugout.com.

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