Giants Draft Preview
By Jim Callis
Scouting Director: Dick Tidrow (first draft: 1997).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 21st)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 30th)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 25th)
Something else that has generally gone unnoticed has been San Francisco's predilection for taking college players. They're one of just three teams that has selected twice as many collegians as high schoolers in the first 10 rounds of each of the last three drafts, joining the Athletics and Yankees.
The best pick over that time has been righthander Jesse Foppert, a steal out of San Francisco in 2001. They've also had a nice run with college outfielders such as Todd Linden, Freddie Lewis, Dan Ortmeier and Jason Ellison (22nd round, 2000). Other college picks of note include corner infielder Lance Niekro, lefthander Noah Lowry and super-sleeper righty Greg Bruso (22nd, 2002).
That isn't to say San Francisco has shied away from high school players. The Giants began the 2000 and 2002 drafts with prep righthanders Boof Bonser and Matt Cain. They took a 21st-round flier on the offensive potential of first baseman Travis Ishikawa after he scared off most teams last year with his commitment to Oregon State. San Francisco signed Ishikawa for $950,000--a record for that deep in the draft.
The Giants have two extra picks this year, gaining two as compensation for Jeff Kent and another for David Bell while giving up one for Ray Durham. Their first selection comes at No. 22, which is best-player-available territory. The system's biggest shortcomings are at catcher and in the middle infield, but those also happen to be two of the 2003 draft's biggest weaknesses. The only player at either of those positions who would merit being picked that high is Louisiana State shortstop Aaron Hill, a gifted line-drive hitter who may fit better at second base as a pro.
Regardless of whom they choose, the Giants usually sign most of their top picks. If they sign three Florida juco pitchers--Central Florida's Michael Musgrave, Chipola's Kellen Ludwig and Seminole's David Timm--as draft-and-follows, they'll have locked up their first 22 picks from the 2002 draft.