Giants Find Familiarity In Panik

SAN FRANCISCO—Joe Panik hasn't played a professional inning, but he already has a few things in common with respected former big league shortstops Royce Clayton and Rich Aurilia.

Panik became the first middle infielder taken by the Giants with a first-round pick since Clayton in 1988. And he's hoping to carve out a career to resemble Aurilia, the Giants' last all-star shortstop and a fellow product of St. John's University.

"He was one of the legends," said Panik, moments after going to the Giants with the 29th overall pick. "I grew up hearing about him. It's kind of following in his footsteps. Hopefully I'll get to San Francisco and leave my mark like he did."

The Giants had plenty of pitchers high on their draft list, including three from the Bay Area—Stanford lefthander Chris Reed and prep righthanders Joe Ross and Robert Stephenson. But they had all been snapped up by the time the Giants were on the clock. And Panik was the top player remaining on their board, scouting director John Barr said.

Panik, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound native of Yonkers, N.Y., is a lefthanded contact hitter with gap power, who hit .402/.513/.645 as a first-team All-Big East selection. He had labrum surgery after his freshman year and his arm might be better suited for second base.

"We see him up the middle," Barr said. "Right now we don't know one way or the other. He walks more than he strikes out. He swings it with authority. He can drive the ball and he's very surehanded. He was the best available player at the time we selected him."

Panik said he was honored to be selected by the defending World Series champions and he intends to sign quickly so he can begin his career as soon as possible.

"Heck, if he ends up having the career Rich Aurilia had, we'll end up having ourselves a nice player," Barr said.


• The Giants were ecstatic that righthander Kyle Crick was available with their  first-round supplemental pick. Barr and vice president Dick Tidrow personally scouted the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from Sherman (Texas) High. Barr said Crick learned a slider in the weeks leading up to the draft, and was throwing it at 88-90 mph to supplement upper-90s heat. "He's very big, strong and physical—what you picture in a big, Texas righthander," Barr said.

• Outfielder Francisco Peguero, who had knee surgery in spring training, returned June 2 at high Class A San Jose and amassed four hits in his second game. Peguero is likely to move up soon.