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SF Giants: How to lure undrafted prospects to San Francisco

By Kurt Mensching
Hensley Farhan Zaidi of the SF Giants will oversee their 2020 MLB trade deadline. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Hensley Farhan Zaidi of the SF Giants will oversee their 2020 MLB trade deadline. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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SF Giants preparing ‘unique pitch’ for undrafted players

MLB plans to hold its amateur draft on June 10-11, but the San Francisco Giants are already preparing for what comes next: selling themselves to all the players who went undrafted.

Even before the league sent a memo to all of the teams on Thursday, detailing how, exactly, it will hold the draft, Giants president Farhan Zaidi was already thinking about it.

The draft will be held remotely on the dates it was originally scheduled for, with the first 37-picks (Round 1 plus competitive balance picks) scheduled for June 10 and rounds two through five set for the next day, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Teams can begin contacting players who were not drafted at 9 a.m. on June 14, per Jon Heyman. They have until Aug. 1 to complete deals.

Teams will be able to pay drafted players a maximum of $100,000, payable within 30 days of the player signing the contract, with 50 percent of the remaining value paid out in each 2021 and 2022.

After that, teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted players — but they are allowed to pay no more than $20,000 bonuses to each. Last year, there were 1217 selections across 40 rounds.

“I don’t think anybody’s excitement about it, but it’s an economic reality,” Zaidi said in an interview with KNBR on Thursday.

The result of the change is that many players who would have earned a lot more money in any other year will have to decide whether to turn pro if they have amateur eligibility remaining. The expectation is that many will choose not to turn pro quite yet.

“There are going to be some really good players left over after just five rounds of drafting,” Zaidi said. “I think for every organization including our own, we want to have a good list of players that we’re targeting.”

Last year, the best-paid player in the sixth round signed a $950,000 contract, per SportTrac. All but four signed at least $150,000 deals. In the ninth round, 19 players signed better than $100,000 bonuses.

The flip side is that now suddenly the players have a choice. Where before their choice would be to sign with the team that drafted them — or don’t — now they might have 20 to 30 clubs calling them on the phone.

"SF Giants’ roster for 2022 projected"

SF Giants have a great story to tell undrafted prospects

A player has to find a team that he feels will fit him best. That is likely going to be a combination of franchise reputation, track record of development, the best path to the majors, and quality of life in whatever city he might end up in.

Zaidi feels pretty confident that his team will come out on top in many of the pitches he makes.

“It’s all going to be about making a unique pitch to them. Hopefully, we can talk about the strides we’ve made in player development, what a great place it is to get to be a professional athlete, being in the Bay Area. And the opportunity we’re going to have in the coming years for young guys coming through our system to establish themselves at the major league level. So there’s going to be a big effort for us over the next few weeks.”

The Giants are still in their early stages of development, but they have a pretty good group of younger prospects already coming together. While Joey Bart may be knocking down the door to the majors, younger prospects like outfielders Heliot Ramos (2021) and Hunter Bishop (2022), shortstop Marco Luciano (2022), and many others near the top of the Giants prospect list, are all still a few years away.

If everything comes together, an undrafted prospect who joins the organization now could find themselves on a pretty fun, competitive team a couple of years down the line.

That’s a pretty good story for Zaidi to be able to tell.

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