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Draft Report Card

Todd Linden
Photo: Mel Bailey

Best Pro Debut: Managers rated RHP Jesse Foppert (2) the top pitching prospect in the short-season Northwest League after he went 8-1 with a league-best 1.93 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 70 innings. Opponents hit just .150 against him. RHP Wesley Hutchison (10) went 6-2, 1.64 with 45 whiffs in 33 innings, leading the NWL with 10 saves. RHP David Cash (6) had little difficulty in high Class A, going 4-0, 2.08 with 46 strikeouts in 39 innings.

Best Athlete: SS Jamie Athas (7) and 2B Derin McMains (11) are acrobatic middle infielders. Athas is quicker and has a stronger arm, and he handled full-season Class A ball with aplomb, batting .274-2-28 with 17 steals.

Best Hitter: 3B Julian Benavidez (3) was unheralded coming out of Diablo Valley (Calif.) Community College, but he batted .319-9-39 in the NWL and drew comparisons to Edgar Martinez.

Best Raw Power: OF Todd Linden (1), the talk of the Cape Cod League in 2000, can go deep from both sides of the plate. That gives him an edge over Benavidez and 1B Tyler Von Schell (15).

Fastest Runner: Athas isn’t a burner, but he has above-average speed and a nose for stealing bases. Between Wake Forest and pro ball, he stole 39 bases in 49 tries this year.

Best Defensive Player: Athas and McMains. C Keith Anderson (27) has a cannon arm and led the NWL by erasing 46 percent of basestealers.

Best Fastball: RHP Brad Hennessey (1) and Foppert both touch 95 mph, though Hennessey did that less often this summer because he was worn down. RHP Justin Knoedler (5), a converted catcher, tops out at 93-94 mph. Interestingly, all three were primarily position players before the 2001 college season, before successfully converting to the mound.

Most Intriguing Background: The Giants drafted two Bulger brothers, SS Kevin (43) and RHP Brian (49), and might have taken a third if the Diamondbacks hadn’t beaten them to flamethrowing RHP Jason in the first round. Knoedler’s twin brother Jason signed with the Tigers as a sixth-round pick. Hutchison was named MVP of the 2000 NAIA World Series, earning two saves to help Lewis-Clark State win the national championship.

Closest To The Majors: Foppert is ticketed for Double-A at the outset of the 2002 season. Also keep an eye on LHP Noah Lowry (1), who has three solid pitches and seems to get better every year.

Best Late-Round Pick: RHP R.D. Spiehs (33) spent the summer in Alaska and was key factor as the Anchorage Glacier Pilots won the National Baseball Congress World Series. He can hit 93 mph with his fastball and also has a tough slider.

The One Who Got Away: The Giants signed or have under control every player drafted in the first 19 rounds. OF Richard Giannotti (20) is a tools player who could blossom into a much higher pick after three years at the University of Miami.

Assessment: San Francisco signed only one high school player--and that selection was voided. Its first nine picks adapted quickly and impressively to pro ball. Hennessey, Lowry, Linden, Foppert, Benavidez and Co. will restock a farm system that has been thinned out by trades over the last few years.

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