SF Giants 2020 draft: Mick Abel might be worth the risk

SF Giants hat. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
SF Giants hat. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

Mick Abel might be worth the risk in the MLB draft for the SF Giants

The MLB draft is not one where teams draft for need, but the San Francisco Giants desperately need to stockpile pitching talent. Several recent mock drafts have connected the Giants to Jesuit High School pitcher Mick Abel out of Oregon.

Both Mike Axisa of CBS Sports and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com speculated that the hard-throwing hurler would land in the Giants lap with the 13th overall pick.

In recent years, the high school right-hander has become a bit of an outcast in the first round of the MLB draft. The track record has not been favorable for teams as the development curve is too steep and the ability to project a high school pitcher is, at times, too complicated.

Despite this, the Giants have been connected to a bevy of high school prospects including Abel and right-handed pitcher Nick Bitsko of Central Bucks-East High School in Pennsylvania.

Of course, this year’s class carries some inherent risk as the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped away nearly the entire high school and college seasons. So, teams are in the uncomfortable position of having to use the 2019 season as the most recent season to evaluate.

This risk is especially relevant for high school prospects since the track record against high-level competition is normally limited before the senior season.

This risk does not appear to be scaring off the Giants one bit. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs elaborates on the Giants draft philosophy heading into this year’s draft:

"“SFG seems to be more open to risk (shorter performance track record, high schoolers, players who barely/didn’t play this spring) based on early chatter.”"

Despite this, there are a lot of reasons to like Abel. For starters, he can generate a fastball that consistently sits in the high-90s with his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame. As he matures, he could even add another tick or two on his fastball.

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The 18-year-old pairs this with three secondary offerings including a slider, changeup, and curveball. The slider rates as a plus pitch, and Abel tunnels it well while maintaining the same arm action he uses to throw a fastball.

His curveball and changeup are still developing with the latter potentially becoming a plus pitch down the road.

With his size, arm action, and repertoire, Abel features some of the best stuff in this year’s class. He has the potential to develop into a top-of-the-rotation arm.

Jonathan Mayo previously predicted that the Giants would be taking the right-hander in the first round and likes his overall profile:

"“The Oregon State recruit generally throws strikes and he gets as high marks for his maturity and makeup as he does his stuff. He’s only going to get stronger and throw harder as he physically matures, something he showed a glimpse of in one outing this spring before things got shut down, giving him the chance to be the first prep arm to come off the board in June.”"

Given that Abel has committed to Oregon State, he does carry some leverage when he and his agent eventually discuss the signing bonus. His draft stock likely will not get any higher if he chooses to go to college, so signability should not be a concern. 

Plus, the Giants hold a $9.2 million purse that it can allocate to their seven draft picks with the 13th overall pick carrying a $4.2 million slot value. Money should not be a deterrent in signing any prep prospect. 

In addition to this, the Giants are so light on top-end pitching talent that pitching has become a need. Outside of Logan Webb, Sean Hjelle, and Seth Corry, there are not many prospects in the system who can throw the ball like this:

In terms of upside, few prospects have a higher ceiling than Abel and the Giants could nab a gem in the middle of the first round. San Francisco focused on adding position player talent in last year’s draft, but taking a pitcher such as Abel would create a little more balance with the overall talent in the organization’s pipeline as it rebuilds.