Looking Back at the 2020 Draft

This week featured a rather surprising transaction.  Last year’s first round pick, catcher Patrick Bailey was sent from his High-A assignment down to the Arizona League after a disappointing start to the season.  Since it’s now been a little more than a year since the 2020 draft, and a few weeks before the 2021 draft, so it feels like a good time to take a look at how the draftees (and signees) are doing in their first year.

The Giants had 7 picks in the 5-round draft, shortened during the pandemic, making it one of the most unique drafts in memory in many facets, from scouting to bonuses to undrafted players.

1st Round – Patrick Bailey (#13)

In his first 33 games after an aggressive placement at Eugene, Bailey has hit .185/.290/.296 with nine doubles and two home runs.  One key to Bailey’s struggles has been his plate discipline, where he’s struck out 43 times in 155 (27.7%) plate appearances, with just 18 walks.  He has shown off some of his defensive ability, catching 28.9% of would-be basestealers despite rule changes in High-A that allow base stealers to get bigger leads.

Bailey’s demotion to the Arizona League is a bit of a surprise.  Bailey’s aggressive placement might have had something to do with Ricardo Genovés starting at Low-A San Jose, but rather than the two swapping places at the latter’s recent promotion.  Perhaps they’re hoping to get his confidence back tehre.

2nd Round – Casey Schmitt (#49)

In 34 games at San Jose, Schmitt is batting .220/.286/.441 with four doubles and eight home runs.  He’s struck out 21 times in 140 plate appearances (15%) with 11 walks.  Schmitt’s early numbers feel like he’s got a whiff of unluckiness, as he’s managing just a .202 BABIP, but he is squaring up balls, competing briefly for the Low-A West home run lead.

2nd Round (Compensation) – Nick Swiney (#67)

Swiney’s season has been injury shortened, as he hasn’t pitched since his first game in the first week of the season.  In that one game, he looked strong, with 4.0 shutout innings, allowing one hit, two walks, and six strikeouts.  This grade is obviously an Incomplete, but there’s hopes that Swiney will help round out this draft class, as he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher with bullpen fallback options.

2nd Round (Compensation) – Jimmy Glowenke (#68)

In 32 games at San Jose, Glowenke is batting .186/.273/.257 over 32 games, with six doubles and one triple, but no home runs.  He’s struck out 31 times to 11 walks in 128 plate appearances.  Glowenke had a bonus of just under $600K, one of a few players to sign underslot deals, and one of the biggest percentages underslot (37.3%) in the Giants draft.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t be able to play to his upside yet, playing among a talented group around him.

3rd Round – Kyle Harrison (#85)

Kyle Harrison has easily been the jewel of this draft class.  In 9 starts, Harrison has a 2.70 ERA and a .195 batting average allowed.  He’s struck out 63 batters (15.46 K/9) to 24 walks (5.89 BB/9) in 36.2 innings pitched.  It’s certainly been a strong start for Harrison, who has dealt with bouts of wildness early in the season.  He’s moved into being one of the top pitching prospects in the system early on.

4th Round – R.J. Dabovich (#114)

Dabovich is the fastest moving of the draftees, taking to High-A quickly, and moved up to Double-A after just 11 relief appearances.  He’s got a 1.42 ERA in High-A, and a 3.86 ERA after five games in Double-A.  Overall, he’s struck out 40 batters and walked seven in 17.1 innings.  If he keeps this up, Dabovich could be the first 2020 draftee to offer major league returns.

5th Round – Ryan Murphy (#144)

After 10 starts in Low-A, Murphy has a 3.80 ERA, with 60 strikeouts (12.00 K/9) and 12 walks (2.40 BB/9) in 45.0 innings.  Murphy was one of the other major underslot draftees, taking the spot of what used to be 8th-10th round picks who have slots in the hundreds of thousands, but are college seniors who take as little as $10,000.  Murphy took $20,000.  So far, however, he’s put up solid results, although he’s allowed nearly two home runs every nine innings.

Undrafted Signees

Every draft features players who weren’t drafted, but get signed as free agents.  In 2020, those players are of a higher pedigree than usual, with the draft being only five rounds instead of 40.  That will make following these NDFAs more interesting than usual.  Catcher Robert Emery started in San Jose, but moved up to Richmond, and is batting .265/.375/.529 in 11 games across two levels.  Utility man Brett Auerbach has become a regular in San Jose, batting .327/.434/.509 across 32 games while playing catcher, second base, and outfield.  Wil Jensen started in San Jose’s bullpen, but slipped into the rotation quickly.  He has a 2.81 ERA with 54 strikeouts to 11 walks in 41.2 innings.  Meanwhile, Ty Weber has been a mainstay in the San Jose bullpen, with a 2.70 ERA and 30 strikeouts to 3 walks in 26.2 innings.  Carter Williams got a late start to the season after beginning in extended spring training, and the outfielder is batting .333/.345/.519 in six games at San Jose.  Outfielder Tyler Forner just started his season with the Arizona League debut.

Ricardo Genovés: Hot-Rising Prospect

Ricardo Genovés has easily been one of the breakout stars of the season.  In 38 games in San Jose, he was batting .338/.441/.511 with 11 doubles and six home runs, absolutely destroying the Low-A West and announcing his arrival as a top prospect.  The 22-year old is actually in his 5th season as a pro, beginning in 2016 in the DSL.  In 2019, he hit .265/.355/.469 between Salem-Keizer and Augusta in just 51 games.  2021 will be his first full season to play, and so far, it’s been fantastic!

Arizona League Begins Play

The Arizona League began its play Monday, once again with two Giants affiliated teams in the league again, named Orange and Black.

There are minor changes in the Arizona League, including a new abbreviation.  Formerly abbreviated to AZL, you’ll now see ACL, with the C standing for “Complex” leagues, since the spring training complexes are their homes.  However, the AZL still shows up in places, including the league’s own webpage.  The ACLs partner, formerly called the Gulf Coast League (GCL), but is now being called the Florida Complex League (FCL).

On the data side, the websites are up on milb.com, but there are no longer team pages, so fans can’t even see the rosters, and it’s a bit convoluted to even see the stats for each team.  But this is part of MLB’s takeover of the minors, and unfortunately, how disorganized much of it has been.

From here on out, the ACL recaps will be a part of the Daily Minors Quick-Notes, as will the Dominican Summer League when it begins play in July.

Players of the Week!

The San Jose Giants have picked up their fourth Low-A West weekly award.  Jairo Pomares got a late start to the season.  The 20-year old Cuban was 9-for-20 in five games for the week, with seven RBI and 5 extra-base hits.  On the season, in ten games, Pomares is batting .317/.391/.659 with five doubles and three home runs.  In 46 plate appearances, he’s struck out 13 and walked four times.

It’s just the latest string in awards for San Jose, who has the best record in the Low-A West League.  They have a 33-15 record, leading the North Division by 3.0 games over second place Fresno.  Three of the league’s top four teams are in the North Division, with Rancho Cucamonga leading the South Division with a 24-23 record.

Meanwhile, Tyler Fitzgerald won the same award for the High-A West, as he was 9-for-21 with two doubles, three home runs and five RBI on the week.  The 23-year old Fitzgerald has been on a tear, and is currently batting .263/.352/.468 on the season with seven home runs.

Justin Bour back to Korea

Justin Bour, recently released by the Giants, is head to Korea to continue playing.

Bour was released by the Giants after batting .213/.346/.426 on the season.  He was signed as a free agent after having an excellent 2019 season in the Angels organization, though he struggled in the Majors in 2020.

Rising in the National Rankings

Baseball America is one of the best publications in covering the minor leagues, so when they rank or evaluate players, it’s worth listening.  They updated their rankings of the Top 100 overall prospects in baseball, and their five Giants players on the list all have risen.  Marco Luciano moved to #7 from #10.  The others have all moved up two spots.  Joey Bart moved up to #27 from #29.  Heliot Ramos is now #68, Luis Matos is #82, and Kyle Harrison is now #88.

The Giants’ five prospects are tied for third-most on the list, which is a good sign for the team heading into a period of roster upheaval.  And also a trade deadline.  How other teams are ranking the prospects will make for quite the trade deadline intrigue.

Highlights of the Week

It’s hard not to start with Frankie Tostado, who hit two game-winning ninth inning home runs this week, just an impressive portrayal of “clutch”.

Jaylin Davis has also been red hot, hitting his second grand slam of the season in just a few games.

Player of the Week Tyler Fitzgerald has been knocking home runs out to left.

The other Player of the Week had a huge bomb of his own this week.

I’m always going to love great catching defense, and Joey Bart brings that.

And of course, the pitching has been great.

Drew Robinson was a big story at the start of the season, but has not been playing as regularly this season.  But he’s still got it.

And to wrap it up, how can you not look at this swing and not hope for the future.

The Reading/Listening List

The best thing to read this week is Conner Letourneau’s story in the Chronicle on the current life of minor leaguers, even with recent improvements, and how players are dealing with it.

Garrett Frechette has a bit of a slow start this season, but here’s a short interview with Bay Bridge sports from this week.

Monday’s Quick Notes:

AAA: Reno 6, Sacramento 5

Top Lines

2B Jason Vosler:4-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 2B (3), 1 HR (5), 1 SO
LF Thairo Estrada: 3-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B (12), 1 BB

SP Matt Frisbee: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR
RP Conneor Menez: 1.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3 HR, 2 WP
RP Jay Jackson: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO

It’s a bit hard to win when your offense is almost entirely limited to two players.  Jason Vosler and Thairo Estrada had seven of the team’s 10 hits, and all their extra-base hits, in this one.  The team had spotted Reno a 6-0 lead, but Jason Vosler got Sacramento on the board with a 2-run home run in the 6th, and an RBI double in the 8th.  The Cats nearly came back, as Thairo Estrada hit an RBI single in the 9th to make it 6-4, and Jason Vosler hit an RBI single to make it 6-5, but the game would end after that.

Other Notes:

  • Jason Vosler’s 4-hit game is his first multi-hit game since May 31, and that counts both his time in Triple-A and the Majors.  Vosler has hit two home runs since his return to Sacramento on June 22nd.
  • Thairo Estrada has a 6-game hitting streak, and is 12-for-26 (.462) over that span, with two doubles and a home run.
  • After giving up ten hits in his last start, Matt Frisbee was looking more like the version that was pitching in Double-A earlier this season, holding Reno to just three hits, though one was a home run.  However, for the third time in five starts at Sacramento, he struck out just one batter.  He’s got 15 strikeouts to five walks in 24.2 innings in Triple-A this season.
  • Conner Menez had a nightmare outing.  He gave up three home runs, giving him four given up in 9.2 innings in Triple-A, in addition to two more given up in 14.0 innings in the Majors.

ACL Teams:
Giants Orange 2, Rockies 1

Top Lines

DH Rayner Santana: 3-4, 1 2B (1)
SS Aeverson Arteaga: 2-4, 1 R, 1 SB (1), 1 E (1)
CF Kwan Adkins: 1-3, 1 2B (1), 2 SO
3B Anyesber Sivira: 1-1

SP Trevor McDonald: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2 WP, 1 HBP

Giants Black 6, Athletics 3

DH Yorlis Rodriguez: 2-3,, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B (1), 1 3B (1), 1 BB, 1 SO
CF Alexander Suarez: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 SO, 1 SB (1)
2B Dilan Rosario: 1-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 3B (1), 1 BB
LF Najee Gaskins: 2-4, 1 R

SP Freddery Paulino: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR
RP Jose Mullings: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO

Other Notes:

  • Yorlis Rodriguez had the biggest night among the Arizona League Opening Day for the Giants, with a double a triple.  The 21-year old is starting his third season with the organization, but hit .256/.304/.332 mostly in Short-A in 2019.
  • Rayner Santana, 18, got the most hits of any Giant on opening night, including a double.  He hit .294/.439/.553 in 48 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.
  • Alexander Suarez, 19, picked up a pair of hits and a steal.  Suarez was signed in the 2018 signing period, but spent most of 2019 injured, batting .308/.472/.487 in 12 games at the end of the season in the DSL.  
  • Aeverson Arteaga, 18, made his Giants debut after being one of the team’s top signings in the 2019 signing period.
  • Anyesber Sivira, 21, hit a single to lead off the game for Orange, but got injured somehow on first when a batter hit a flyball out to right field.  
  • Trevor McDonald, 20, pitched all of four innings in his first season of 2019 across three appearances, and outdid it for his 2021 debut with five innings.
  • Freddery Paulino allowed three runs in his 2021 debut.  Paulino, 20, is starting his third season in the Giants organization.  In 2019 in the Arizona League, he had a 4.12 ERA splitting time between starting and relieving.