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San Francisco Giants: Grading the 2002 MLB draft class

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on September 30, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on September 30, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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In the days leading up to the 2019 MLB Draft, we’ll be taking a look back at every San Francisco Giants draft since 2000. Next up, the 2002 draft class.

The San Francisco Giants had the No. 25 pick in the 2002 draft after going 90-72 to finish second in the NL West during the previous season.

The team had 50 total selections and wound up signing 27 of the players that were picked.

The highest unsigned selection was right-hander Kellen Ludwig in the 12th round. The Giants drafted him again the following year in the ninth round and successfully signed him.

Of the 27 players that signed, eight ended up reaching the majors.

Here’s a closer look at a few notable selections:

First Pick: RHP Matt Cain, Houston HS (Tenn.)—1st round, 25th overall

An absolute slam dunk by the Giants with this pick.

Only Zack Greinke (No. 6 overall, 68.0 WAR) and Cole Hamels (No. 17 overall, 57.6 WAR) had more career WAR than Matt Cain (29.1) among first-round picks, and they were both long gone by the time the Giants were on the clock.

Cain appeared on the Baseball America Top 100 prospect list three times—at No. 91 in 2004, No. 13 in 2005 and No. 10 in 2006—before joining the San Francisco rotation full-time for the 2006 season. He ended up finishing fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting, and by 2009 he was an All-Star and one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

He did not allow an earned run in 21.1 innings of work during the 2010 postseason to lead the Giants to a World Series title, and played a major role in the team’s 2012 title run as well, posting a combined 2.10 ERA in 51.1 career playoff innings.

While injuries derailed his final seasons with the team, he more than carved out his place in franchise lore for his starring role in a pair of title winners.

All told, he won 104 games with a 3.68 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 1,694 strikeouts in 2,085.2 innings while making three All-Star teams and finishing in the top 10 in Cy Young voting twice.

Passed On: 1B Joey Votto (44th overall), LHP Jon Lester (57th overall)

(Second-)Best Pick: RHP Kevin Correia, Cal Poly—4th round, 127th overall

It didn’t take Kevin Correa long to reach the majors. He made his MLB debut on July 10, 2003, a little over a year after he was taken in the fourth round of the 2002 draft.

The Giants ended up using him in a swingman role during his six seasons with the team. During his time with the team, he logged 46 starts and 124 relief appearances, posting a 4.59 ERA with 14 wins and 22 holds.

He joined the San Diego Padres in free agency after the 2008 season and spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies over the course of a 13-year MLB career.

He was an All-Star in 2011 while pitching for the Pirates.

Best Late-Round Pick: 1B Travis Ishikawa, Federal Way HS (Wa.)—21st round, 637th overall

Travis Ishikawa hit one of the most memorable home runs in San Francisco Giants history during the 2014 NLCS, a series that saw him go 5-for-13 with two doubles, one home run and seven RBI in five games.

That actually came in his second stint with the organization. He debuted with the Giants in 2006 and spent parts of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons in the majors as well. He joined the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency after the 2011 season and bounced around for a few years before making his way back to San Francisco in 2014.

All told he had a 92 OPS+ with 33 doubles, 17 home runs and 95 RBI in 752 regular season plate appearances with the Giants, good for 1.5 WAR.

Others Who Reached the Majors

  • OF Fred Lewis—2nd round, 66th overall
  • OF Daniel Ortmeier—3rd round, 97th overall
  • LHP Jesse English—6th round, 187th overall
  • RHP Clay Hensley—8th round, 247th overall
  • RHP Matt Palmer—31st round, 937th overall

Fred Lewis hit for the cycle as a rookie in 2007 and was worth 3.8 WAR serving as a fourth outfielder for parts of four seasons. Clay Hensley was traded to the Padres in 2003 in exchange for reliever Matt Herges who ended up saving 23 games for the Giants in 2004.

Final Thoughts/Grade

The Matt Cain pick is enough to make this an “A-grade” draft, though we’ll save the “A+” grade for a draft with a bit more in the way of complementary pieces.

Grade: A

Next. Grading the 2001 MLB draft class

We’ll be running through every San Francisco Giants draft class since 2000 leading up to the 2019 MLB Draft on June 3rd, so be sure to check back here for more.

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