Cove Chatter 100 Honorable Mention: The Draftees

These are 2013 draft picks who didn’t make the top 50. The Giants were mocked by many in the baseball media for their selection of Christian Arroyo in the 1st round of this year’s draft… that ended pretty quickly once Arroyo took the field. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve read one national review that was complementary of the Giants draft (although there aren’t many reviews to begin with, admittedly). If I remember right, Keith Law even said that he’d place this Giants’ class among the bottom of MLB. I think he’s way off base, as were the sneers about the Arroyo pick. If you look closely at the following 10 players (who aren’t even among the headliners of the class), and consider where they were selected, I think you’ll find there’s some real value here. The Giants know were very intentional with this group, which has seriously grown on me over the past few months. Keep these names in mind, because I think you’ll see a couple of them turn some heads next season.

PS: If you have a little extra time, I’d encourage you to click on some of the links… some are video (if I could find any), some just articles, but I think they’re all worthwhile.

Eugene Escalante | C, 22 yo, 5-10, 185, BR, TR | 2013 Draft – 15 | (A-) 39 G, 151 PA, .300/.777, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 11 BB, 34 K

He goes by Geno, and he’s my sleeper from the 2013 draft. D2 defensive player of the year at Mount Olive College, where he hit .399 and had a 46-game hitting streak during his final two collegiate seasons. NorCal kid from Fairfield was drafted out of high school. Attended and played at Cal State Fullerton for a year before transferring to Chipola JC, where he played one season as well. He’ll have to compete for time within the organization with Ross, but it sounds like their defensive abilities may be pretty even, and I’d give a slight edge to Escalante with the bat at this point. Here’s the thing I love about this guy: I couldn’t tell you if he’s offensive or defensive-minded at the moment… maybe he’s both! A D1 talent who slipped because he played D2 ball? I really like the pick.

Escalante Link:

Pat Young | RHP, 21 yo, 6-5, 200 | 2013 Draft – 13 | (AZL, A-) 10 G, 9 GS, 44.1 IP, 1.22 ERA, 30 H, 10 BB, 32 K

Villanova righty had an impressive professional debut this summer with Salem-Keizer. Earned a spot in San Jose’s playoff rotation, and may wind up there again next spring. Features a low-90’s fastball and an odd delivery from his 6-foot-5 frame.

Young Video:

Brandon Bednar | SS, 21 yo, 6-4, 185, BR, TR | 2013 Draft – 7 | (A-, AZL) 51 G, 230 PA, .270/.737, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 11 SB, 15 BB, 28 K

Tall, versatile middle-infielder was a star at Florida Gulf Coast. Displayed a nice bit of power at the plate for Salem-Keizer this summer. Could become a super-utility type of player.

Bednar FGCU Profile:

Christian Jones | LHP, 22 yo, 6-3, 210 | 2013 Draft – 18 | (R, A-) 15 G, 19 IP, 2.84 ERA, 17 H, 4 BB, 18 K

Oregon lefty had solid draft stock in 2012 before having TJ surgery. Could be a nice steal from the 18th round this summer.

Jones Video:

Ty Ross | C, 21 yo, 6-1, 200, BR, TR | 2013 Draft – 12 | (A-, AZL) 34 G, 130 PA, .237/.655, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 12 BB, 22 K

Drafted as a junior out of LSU this summer. Has solid skills behind the dish, as well as some pop in his bat. Saw his average drop to .211 at LSU last year, so he seems to profile more as a Jackson Williams type.

Ross Article:

Nick Jones | LHP, 22 yo, 6-6, 215 | 2013 Draft – 14 | (AZL) 17 G, 18.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 9 H, 9 BB, 18 K

Tall lefty was JUCO All-American and a stud two-way player at Chattahoochie Valley CC. He led his club in almost every offensive category, and was also the team’s closer. The Giants liked him better on the mound. Videos show him bringing a couple different arm slots, including some sidearm funk. With his size, he could be another southpaw sleeper to follow from this class.

Jones Video:

Garrett Hughes | LHP, 22, 6-9, 230 | 2013 Draft – 19 | (AZL) 9 G, 7.2 IP, 4.70 ERA, 8 H, 8 BB, 7 K

The Giants took a number of tall pitchers in this year’s draft, none taller than 6-foot-9 Hughes. The giant Stanford lefty features a fastball that runs 88-91 with a curve and changeup, and has been on the MLB radar since his high school days in southern California. He seems to be strictly a reliever, but could be pretty nasty on lefties with his downhill movement.

Hughes Article:

Nick Gonzalez | LHP, 21 yo, 6-4, 220 | 2013 Draft – 24 | (AZL) 7 G, 17.1 IP, 1.04 ERA, 6 H, 3 BB, 17 K

Impressive debut for the 21 year-old lefty from South Florida, allowing only 9 baserunners in 17 IP in the Arizona League. It’s not much of a sample size, but he’s got the perfect frame for a power lefty. He’s an intriguing player, and it’s quite possible the Giants got a steal for a pick that late in the draft.

Gonzalez USF:

Tyler Rogers | RHP, 22 yo, 6-5, 187 | 2013 Draft – 10 | (A-, AZL) 20 G, 27.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, 22 H, 12 BB, 31 K

Senior sign from Austin Peay in the 10th round of the draft. He’s a tall, lanky submariner. He tied the NCAA D1 single-season record with 23 saves this year, working a 1.63 ERA for the season. In the Giants world, we call this guy a gamer. He’ll have to stretch that $7.5K signing bonus and work twice as hard if he wants to make it to the top.

Rogers Video:

Blake Miller | SS, 23 yo, 6-3, 195, BR, TR | 2013 Draft – 25 | (A-,AZL) 41 G, 161 PA, .281/.800, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, 19 BB, 31 K

25th round pick from D2 Western Oregon. Began college career at Sac State.  Was the GNAC MVP, West Region Hitter of the Year, and started all 54 games for WOU in 2013. He posted solid offensive numbers in Salem-Keizer (his hometown) this summer after being drafted. Talent can come from anywhere, and the Giants have had their eye on D2 grinders the past couple years. As a former GNAC athlete, I’ll be rooting for him big time.

Miller Article:

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Geno Escalante

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Org Pitching: Salem-Keizer

Dan Slania – R (21): 3.95 era, 13.2 ip, 8.6 h/9, 2.0 bb/9, 9.2 k/9 – 5th round pick from Notre Dame this year. Big body (6-5, 255), hard thrower. Nice fastball-slider combination. Maybe San Jose next year?

Eduardo (EJ) Enicinosa – R (22): 3.12 era, 17.1 ip, 4.2 h/9, 5.2 bb/9, 10.9 k/9 – Giants took him with 7th pick in 2012. Another 6-foot-5 bullpen power arm with control issues. Why is he only pitching sparingly in short-season ball?

Chase Johnson – R (21): 3.88 era, 46.1 ip, 8.0 h/9, 2.5 bb/9, 8.5 k/9 – First pitcher taken in the 2013 draft. Former Cal Poly closer, now a starter. Low to mid-90’s sinking fastball.

Cameron McVey – R (24): 3.19 era, 42.1 ip, 7.2 h/9, 3.0 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – 3rd 6-foot-5 righty bullpen arm on this list. 22nd round pick last year out of tiny Biola (CA) College. Should help form a strong pen in Augusta next year.

Nick Vander Tuig – R (21): 11.70 era, 10.0 ip, 17.1 h/9, 3.6 bb/9, 9.0 k/9 – 6th round pick, led UCLA to CWS title this summer. Low 90’s fastball with great control. Definitely a sleeper.

Pat Young – R (21): 1.22 era, 44.1 ip, 6.1 h/9, 2.0 bb/9, 6.5 k/9 – 6-foot-5 starter from Villanova has been a nice surprise in S-K this summer. 13th round pick with a funky, but deceptive delivery.

Christian Jones – L (22): 2.84 era, 19.0 ip, 8.1 h/9, 1.5 bb/9, 8.5 k/9 – Oregon lefty was 18th round pick in June. Sturdy frame. Giants loaded up on relievers in this draft.

Tyler Rogers – R (22): 2.30 era, 27.1 ip, 7.2 h/9, 4.0 bb/9, 10.2 k/9 – 10th round pick this season. College senior with good size. Signed for $7.5k. Off to a surprisingly good start to pro career.

Chris Johnson – R (22): 2.49 era, 83.0 ip, 7.0 h/9, 0.9 bb/9, 8.5 k/9 – Repeat performer in the NWL. Much better numbers this time around, with only 8 BB in 83 IP.

Andrew Leenhouts – L (23): 2.39 era, 71.2 ip, 8.5 h/9, 1.8 bb/9, 6.7 k/9 – Crafty lefty with sub-90’s velocity. 23rd round pick last season, leads the Volcanoes in wins this year.

Overview: It is my opinion that the Giants had a very good draft this summer, and I think we’ve already seen some proof of that in the 2nd half of the season. The high school picks have led the AZL team to a dominant championship this summer, while Salem-Keizer’s been no slouch in the NWL. All of the pitchers on this list were drafted either this year or last, and they make up a quite unheralded, but strong staff.

While the starting pitching has been good all summer, it’s the bullpen arms that are likely to be the quick movers in this system. Slania is a monster who brings the heat, and there were talks of the Giants making him a starter when they took him in the 5th round in June’s draft. Looks like the front office is satisfied with him out of the pen for now. He might make some top 20 Giants’ lists this winter. Encinosa and McVey are high-upside guys who I’ve spotted on a few lists already. McVey is a little older, but he’s only in his second pro season. Encinosa is closer material, but he hasn’t logged many innings this year. I’m not sure why.

Jones and Rogers are the other relievers on this list. Jones is a 6-foot-3 lefty from the University of Oregon (and a NorCal kid from Danville) who missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Once a top of the rotation starter with electric stuff, he worked almost exclusively out of the pen this spring in Eugene. If he can stay healthy, maybe the Giants give him another chance to start down the road.

Rogers, the Giants’ 10th round pick, signed for $7,500, obviously well below the slot value for a pick that high. I really don’t know what kind of stuff he offers, but he’s a 6-foot-5 kid who’s pitched very well in his 27.1 innings out of the pen this summer.

The rest of these guys make up the team’s starting rotation, and I have included them because each has seen some form of success in his their short professional careers. All 5 are college draft picks. Chase Johnson is the highest drafted (although his 3rd round selection was seen as a reach by many) of the group. He’s a former closer who the Giants are trying in a starting role.

To me, Chase has the most upside of the S-K rotation, although Vander Tuig might turn out to be the steady big league starter of the group. The UCLA ace was impressive in this year’s College World Series. If you saw his title clinching performance against Mississippi State, you know how dominant he was. 8 shutout innings in the biggest game of your career? I’ll take that guy on my team any day.

Vander Tuig hasn’t done well in his short stint as a professional (which included a spot start in San Jose), but it’s likely that his arm was pretty worn out after the college postseason. Either way, he’s a polished pitcher with great command, and I still think he could be the one from this group to bypass Augusta and start in San Jose next year.

Of course, Chase Johnson and Vander Tuig could turn out to be busts or organizational fillers. You never know, and that’s just the nature of the game. But those two will likely garner the most buzz from this crop of starters. The other three guys all have one thing in common: size. Young is 6-foot-5, Chris Johnson is 6-4, and Leenhouts is 6-3. Leenhouts and Johnson are second-year pros who have been steady members of the S-K rotation all summer. Johnson’s k/bb ratio of 78/8 is impressive, while the crafty lefty Leenhouts posted a 2.39 ERA in his 71 IP. Young is a product of the 2013 draft, and has only allowed 4 ER in 8 starts with the Volcanoes. He’s a lanky guy with a funky delivery, but he’s been impressive in his short time as a pro.

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