Drew Ferguson Always Looking For An Edge
Drew Ferguson might be called the thinking man’s outfielder.
“I’m just interested in the information out there about baseball in a way that I think a lot of players aren’t,” Ferguson said. “I’m always looking for a small edge in information.”
The Giants thought highly enough of Ferguson to select him from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft this past December.
“We like his plate discipline,” said Jeremy Shelley, the Giants’ assistant general manager. “… He’s got a knack for getting on base.”
Ferguson boasts a career .393 on-base percentage over four minor league seasons. A 19th-round pick from Belmont University in 2015, Ferguson had a .436 OBP last season with Triple-A Fresno.
He was ahead of the curve in terms of incorporating the analytic side of baseball into his game.
“I was interested in sabermetrics, analytics, whatever you want to call it, as early as age 16,” Ferguson said. “I stumbled across it on the internet as a young Braves fan. It made sense to me, and it wasn’t what was being talked about in the media, typically, or by players and fans.”
Ferguson, 26, spent a good deal of time early in spring training working with Michael Schwartze, one of the Giants’ baseball operations analysts.
“I like to understand how the body moves,” Ferguson said. “I like to understand what the best hitters in the game do.”
Something that rarely gets discussed about a player: how often he gets hit by a pitch. Ferguson has boosted his on-base percentage by letting his body absorb baseballs.
He got hit by 56 pitches over his final three seasons at Belmont. In the minors, he has been hit by a pitch 29 times.
Ferguson, a righthanded batter, lost more than two months of playing time last year after a pitch from Marlins prospect Pablo Lopez broke his wrist.
“I’m not going to change where I stand or change how I hit because of how I’m being pitched,” Ferguson said. “So, for whatever reason, maybe pitchers think that they can go inside on me. They think that I handle the pitch away better. Well, go for it, but you might hit me, and then I’m going to get on base even more than I already do.”
The Giants like Ferguson’s versatility—he can play all three outfield spots—and the fact that he was an “equal-splits” hitter with Fresno last year: batting .308 against righthanders and .291 versus lefties.
Ferguson is trying to become the first position player from Belmont to make the majors. Two Belmont alums, Jerry Bell (Brewers, 1971-74) and Dwight Bernard (Mets, 1978-79, and Brewers, 1981-82), have pitched in the big leagues. Incidentally, Bernard is the pitching coach for the Giants’ Salem-Keizer team in the short-season Northwest League.