The Giants wrapped up the 2023 draft on Tuesday, collecting ten more prospects to fill out their farm system, and selecting a number of players from all over the country.
Unlike 2022 and 2021, the Giants had a draft that tilted towards hitting rather than pitching, splitting their final day between five pitchers and five hitters. They picked up a pair of catchers and a pair of outfielders, plus a third baseman. Almost all the players were from 4-year universities, but one came from a JC, and another came from a high school academy in Puerto Rico.
The Giants went back to the catching well right away, drafting Jack Payton out of Louisville in the 11th round. Louisville has been called “Catcher U” in the past, with many top name catchers coming out of there, such as Will Smith and Henry Davis recently. Payton has gotten a lot of attention on his own, being named one of three finalists for the Buster Posey Award, the award given to the best catcher in the country.
Payton hit a team-leading .374, with a .374/.472/.642 batting line, with 10 doubles, one triple, and 12 home runs. He drew 22 walks to 41 strikeouts on the season, while starting almost every game either as the catcher or at DH. He can drive the ball to all fields and has average power to both his pull side and the opposite field, but he is a bit aggressive and has some strikeout issues. There are some questions about him behind the plate, as he’ll need to improve his footwork and his throw times, as he currently is considered to have a fringy arm with accuracy issues. There’s some discussion in the scouting reports of him moving to left field and being able to catch occasionally, since he moves well for a catcher and has good athleticism. Payton is noted for his baseball IQ and leadership skills while working with a premiere college team with a lot of prospects on it.
Though Payton was taken with the #330 pick overall, he was ranked #148 by MLB Pipeline, and #116 by Baseball America. He could be quite a value addition.
In the 12th round, the Giants took an interesting arm in Timmy Manning, a LHP out of Arizona State. Manning had a horrible season and wasn’t on any major rankings, as he had a 7.26 ERA with ASU and had 66 strikeouts to 21 walks in the Arizona sun. Previously, he’d spent two seasons with Florida before transferring, where he had a 4.76 ERA in 2022. So why did the Giants draft him so early?
In 2020, when Manning was coming out of High School, he was ranked #135 by Baseball America as one of the top high school pitchers in Florida. As a high school senior, Manning threw a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts and one walk in his first game. He took a perfect game into the 7th in game 2, and wasn’t scored upon in his next two starts before the pandemic ended the season. He was noted for a hammer curveball with high spin, though he also had a high 80’s fastball and a passable changeup. Manning has struggled in college because he got hit hard, presumably on his non-curveball, but he could still rack up curves. The Giants have loved high-spin pitches and it would seem they think they could make adjustments to his other pitches to be able to maximize the potential he has with that curve.
In the 13th round, the Giants returned to Puerto Rico to draft center fielder Jose Ortiz, from the Leadership Christian Academy. There’s not much available on him, though he’s immediately the youngest player the Giants have drafted at 18, being born on Feb. 13th, 2005. The few scouting reports I could find indicate that he has plus-plus speed and possibly an 80-grade arm.
The 14th round saw the Giants draft RHP Cale Lansville from San Jacinto North junior college. Like Manning, Lansville was a notable high school pitching prospect (though in 2021), but whose stuff took a step back in college. He spent 2022 with LSU and was used sparingly in relief, but transferred to the JC powerhouse at San Jacinto for 2023. In the less competitive JC world, he had a 3.62 ERA with 106 strikeouts to 29 walks in 74.2 innings.
Lansville is committed to Florida State University for 2024, so it remains to be seen if the Giants will be able to sign him and bring him back into the fold. He could be a draft-and-follow candidate.
LHP Dylan Carmouche was the Giants 15th round pick, coming out of Tulane. Carmouche has a plus changeup to go with a low-90’s fastball and a developing slider, and was the top starter for Tulane the past two seasons, with a 4.48 ERA in 2022, and a 5.80 ERA in 2023. This past season, he had a 102 strikeouts to 40 walks in 90.0 innings for the Green Wave.
Carmouche has been a work in progress. From his freshman year at Mississippi State to his sophomore year in Tulane, Carmouche was known for throwing from multiple arm slots, which must have been intimidating from Carmouche’s 6’6” frame. But in 2023, he settled in on one arm slot. The Giants may try to take advantage of it, as they have put a priority on tunneling pitches in the system.
The Giants got back to the infield in the 16th round, taking third baseman Justin Wishkoski from Sam Houston. Wishkoski is a big hitter with good patience, having a batting line of .332/.414/.552, and 22 walks to 26 strikeouts. In his sophomore year, he had more walks (24) than strikeouts. In 2023, he had 11 home run with two triples and 18 doubles, and may have some projectable strength. He had some struggles defensively at third base this season, with seven errors, and might be a first baseman or left fielder in the future.
In the 17th round, the Giants took their third catcher of the draft, with Drew Cavanaugh out of Florida Southern university. Cavanaugh hit .316/.441/.588 on the season, with six doubles, three triples, and a team-leading 12 home runs. He walked 33 times to 44 strikeouts in 177 at-bats.
Cavanaugh started switch hitting in little league, and maintained it through at least his freshman year of college, but moved to his non-dominant side as a LHH by 2023, and was listed as a lefty-hitting catcher when his name was called. He’s a fantastic defender, as his 2022 season in was playing for Eastern Florida State College (a JC), and was named the NJCAA Division I Co-Defensive Player of the Year, as he threw out 66% of the runners he faced, and didn’t make a single error all season.
The Giants went to the Division-II well in the 18th round, picking up LHP Micheal Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a big guy at 6’5” whose inconsistent fastball can hit the upper 90’s, and yet, he didn’t deal with as many walks as often seen with high velocity pitchers. He had a 3.12 ERA with 67 strikeouts to just eight walks in 40.1 innings with North Greenville. In the Cape Cod league, he had a 1.23 ERA with 10 strikeouts to four walks in 7.1 innings.
One scouting report indicates his nickname is “The Nightmare”.
In the 19th round, the Giants took LHP Tommy Kane from Maryland. Kane had a tough season for Maryland, with a 7.31 ERA and 29 strikeouts to 16 walks in 28.1 innings. Scouting reports indicate that he can get his fastball up to the mid 90’s, but often sits in the low-90’s with it, with an average curve and flashes a plus slider.
Kane is the second player the Giants have taken from Maryland in this draft, previously drafting catcher Luke Shliger in the 6th round.
With the final pick of their draft, in the 20th round, the Giants went back to the Ivy League and took Princeton outfielder Nadir Lewis. Lewis missed most of the college season, playing in just four games with Princeton this year. In 2022, Lewis hit .329/.428/.613 with 12 doubles, one triple, and ten home runs, with 28 walks to 35 strikeouts, and stole nine bases in as many attempts. Lewis was healthy enough to play summer ball with the Boone Bigfoots in the Coastal Plain League, and he raked with a .412/.483/.637 batting line over 28 games, with 15 walks to 20 strikeouts.
And one thing that’ll make a lot of Giants fans like him…in a podcast while he was at Princeton, he was asked about the Hall of Fame and a certain controversial past Giant, and Lewis said “[Bonds] needs to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Lewis is the second player taken from Princeton by the Giants in this draft, as they drafted outfielder Scott Bandura in the 7th round.