SF Giants Draft Trends
5. Spin Over Speed
Pitching has been home to the most obvious changes under Zaidi at the MLB level. It has clearly carried through the rest of the organization. While Barr consistently prioritized hitters at the top of the draft, when he pulled the trigger on an arm, fastball velocity was almost always at a premium. Zack Wheeler, Beede, Bickford, and Kyle Crick were the lone pitchers drafted in the first round (or first supplemental round) during Barr’s time as amateur scouting director. All four flashed upper-90s fastball velocity in the lead-up to the draft. Most of the relievers drafted under Barr carried premium fastball velo as well.
Under Holmes, Dabovich remains the lone pitcher selected in the top-15 rounds to flash a premium fastball before the draft. Instead, the Giants have coveted starters with fastballs sitting in the low-90s paired with an advanced breaking ball. Beyond pitchers like McDonald, Harrison, and Swiney, the hurlers selected from rounds 5-15 like Ryan Wright, Caleb Kilian, Chris Wright, and Nick Morreale matched this profile as well.
Even a deeper look at Dabovich shows a strong connection to other pitchers the Giants have drafted. While his fastball touching 100 mph will get most of the attention, he has worked extensively to maximize his fastball and breaking ball’s spin efficiency. If you’re trying to explain why Dabovich has been the lone reliever selected highly under Holmes, the velocity is probably secondary to his advanced ability to spin both his fastball and breaking ball.
The Giants have not selected a pitcher in the first two rounds of the draft since Holmes/Zaidi have joined the organization, for what it’s worth. Velocity almost always comes at a premium. It’s possible that the Giants have been high on some pitchers with big-time velocity but just chosen to allocate their spending elsewhere. However, given the nearly identical trend in additions to the big-league pitching staff, it’s easier to be confident in this continuing.
Around the Foghorn’s SF Giants prospects week is just getting started. Make sure to check back for more articles about the franchise’s farm system alongside our usual Spring Training coverage.