The SF Giants entered the 2022 MLB Draft in a precarious situation. They picked last every round and they have the second-smallest bonus pool to work with. The combination of the two made it tough to do the sort of shenanigans that we have seen them do over the past three years in terms of spreading their bonus pool around. As a result, they have not drafted a single high schooler in the first two days of the draft. What was incredible is that when Farhan Zaidi, Michael Holmes, and company had their backs against the wall, the more daring they got resulted in a very ballsy draft class.
Contact hitters and more pitchers round out the second day of the SF Giants 2022 MLB Draft class
No team has won a draft right after the very last pick was made, nor has nobody won the "who drafted the most high-ranked prospects in Baseball America's top 500" category. It's all about the tools and what each prospect can bring to the table in terms of helping the big-league club hoist the World Series trophy. That could only happen at least a couple of years from now. Are there any potential foundational pieces of a future championship-winning Giants squad?
You can read the Day One draftees here and you can read the first part of the Day Two draftees here! Oh, before I proceed, if you want to watch some highlights of the Day Two selections, my buddy Sean Bialaszek made a wonderful video on it that you should watch!
Round 6: Hayden Birdsong
After drafting pitchers who could be starting pitchers in pro ball, this might be the first genuine bullpen guy. Birdsong is also the first drafted prospect I do not know of at all. The more I dig deep on him though, the more I see why he was drafted. He has not turned 21 yet, and he's completely obliterated the Northwoods League this season by striking out 31 out of the 73 batters that he's faced.
Like the pitchers drafted before him on the second day, Birdsong has a fastball and a breaking ball to work with. The fastball sits in the low-90s as a multi-inning guy but the concrete's still wet on Birdsong's frame that an uptick in his velocity could happen next season. It's a vertical-oriented approach with him throwing the fastball in the upper half of the zone while throwing his plus curveball with plenty of depth and late bite at the bottom of the zone. Making him work more in a one-inning role could also unlock more velocity that could see him touch mid or even high-90s. There's a changeup somewhere in his back pocket that actually looks pretty decent but if you are posting whiff rates north of 50% on both your fastball and curveball, you know where the bread is truly buttered.
Unlike guys like Miles and Simon, I feel Birdsong needs less work in terms of polish and could work now in San Jose as a one-inning stopper kind of guy. That being said, it's easy to see him be a quick-mover even though he does not have the best control in the world as well.
Round 7: Zach Morgan
After drafting six straight pitchers, the Giants finally drafted their first position player in the draft and interestingly enough, it's a catcher. We might need to do an extensive talk about the current situation of catching depth in the organization but long story short, it's been a disappointing year for plenty of the catchers in the organization with Patrick Bailey leading the charge in disappointments. I know that the middle infield situation beyond Marco Luciano, Aeverson Arteaga, and Casey Schmitt is also concerning but Giants just need more catchers, man. It looks like drafted a pretty good one in Morgan.
A redshirt junior catcher, Morgan kept on improving every season with him peaking this year with a 1.046 OPS, a close to 10% walk rate, and a strikeout rate of less than 7%. The Buster Posey Award finalist is known for making tons of contact with a compact, right-handed stroke and he's taken leaps in terms of lowering his strikeout rate each season. Morgan does not exactly incorporate his lower half in his swing but he has some raw power to tap into and if he can incorporate power into his hit game, he has the potential to become a solid prospect. Defensively, he's not a slouch as he has an average arm and overall ability.
This pick is highly interesting for a number of reasons. The first is the shift towards drafting guys with good hit ability and low strikeouts and helping them tap into their raw power better. The Giants have been known to draft power-over-hit guys over the years and not care too much about the strikeout rate but with guys like Luis Matos last year and Casey Schmitt this year, the Giants are reaping the success of developing power into hit-first prospects. The second is that it could be telling about what they think of the catching depth as I said earlier. Morgan still could return to college and play one more year as a redshirt senior but this is his chance to cash in. He's also a Giants fan growing up so it's time for him to play for his favorite team.
Round 8: Wade Meckler
Meckler is the second straight hitter that the Giants drafted on Day Two and just like Morgan, this dude is against the traditional Giants grain in terms of amateur talent acquisition. The dude has below-average power, some even say it's well below-average. However, the dude has been a steady performer over the past two seasons for Oregon State and has more walks than strikeouts this season.
The dude is what you call a grinder or in Harold Reynolds' terms, a baseball player. Meckler has a sound approach at the box with good balance in his swings and even though he is not the most physically imposing player in the world at only 5'10", 178 lbs., he hits the ball with good exit velocities well. Still, he's only hit six homers in 513 plate appearances in his career so not much should be on the horizon. Mostly an outfielder over the past two years, Meckler could also see some time in the infield (he's played all over the dirt in 2019) which could help the middle infield depth issue of the organization in the lower levels.
I am not saying that Meckler could be a stud but there's a chance he could turn out to be a solid prospect even if the tools are not spectacular as it's mostly average at best. He could sign for a little bit under slot but this is a guy who has a shot of beating rather modest expectations.
Round 9: Jack Choate
If there is one phrase that I could describe this pick, it's "barn find". Choate is from Division Two Assumption College in the Northeast of which Le Moyne, the former home of top prospect Ryan Murphy, is also a part of. In 12 games for the squad (10 of which he started), Choate posted a 2.00 ERA with 121 strikeouts (16.2 K/9) and 32 walks (4.3 BB/9) over 67.1 innings of work.
Choate might not be the most athletic or exciting guy in the world but he is a big dude at 6'6", 250 pounds and he has plenty of deception in his operation on the mound. He throws from a low 3/4 arm slot, almost like a side arm slot at times, and he has crossfire in his motion. He only has average arm speed but he can touch 93 MPH on his fastball and sits around 89-91 MPH with some running action. The high-70s slider has good sweeping action while his upper-70s changeup has good fading action.
Improving the control, specifically his below-average fastball control, is number one on Choate's agenda. With a crossfire action, I could see him straightening out his stride to the plate with the hopes of improving his control but even if he can't there's a shot that his off-speed pitches might carry him enough before his control issues catch up to him again. He will likely sign an under-slot bonus
Round 10: JM Bertrand
Capping off the second day of the draft is Liam Simon's teammate John Michael (or JM) Bertrand. He has an incredible story to tell. Originally a walk-on from Furman, Bertrand was initially cut off the Furman baseball team as a freshman but the dude persevered and made the team in his sophomore where he pitched until he graduated. He then went to Notre Dame to continue his studies and baseball career and not only finished with two master's degrees in his back pocket (Science Management and Business Administration), but he's also been the ace of the Fighting Irish rotation that got into the College World Series this year.
Already 24 years old, Bertrand is way older than plenty of prospects in this draft class but he's also been one of the most consistent. With a career BB/9 of 2.2, you can definitely count on Bertrand's ability to throw strikes. His 88-91 MPH sinker pairs well with his low-80s slider that flashes above average. There is also a curveball and changeup but Bertrand should fare well as a quick-moving lefty reliever in pro ball with his fastball-slider combination and the ability to command those two pitches.
Bertrand should sign for well below-slot value but they are getting what could possibly be the next big sleeper prospect for the Giants next season with the combination of strike-throwing and sneaky two-pitch combo from the left side.