For the second straight year, the SF Giants went with an unconventional approach in the first round. In 2022, they added two-way player Reggie Crawford from the University of Connecticut. This year, they went in that same direction, selecting first baseman/pitcher Bryce Eldridge out of Madison High School in Virginia.
SF Giants nab two-way star in first round of MLB draft
Just the other day, Fangraphs published a mock draft and they hit the nail on the head with respect to the Giants pick. The Giants hold three picks on Sunday. Eldridge went with the No. 16 overall pick, but they hold the No. 52 and No. 69 picks as well.
The No. 69 pick is a compensatory pick. The Giants issued Carlos Rodón a qualifying offer last winter, but he rejected it and signed a massive contract with the New York Yankees. Since he rejected it, the Giants received a compensatory pick.
They will have just over $9.9 million of bonus pool allotment in this year's draft. They can exceed that number by five percent without forfeiting future picks. Any amount within the 0 - 5 percent threshold is taxed at 75 percent of the overage.
Over the past few seasons, the Giants have squeaked right under that five-percent threshold. Right off of the bat, Eldridge could be hard to sign given that he is a prep prospect with a commitment to the University of Alabama. That said, the No. 16 pick holds a slot value of $4.3 million, so he has a chance of landing a lucractive signing bonus.
So, how does Eldridge look in the field. He played a lot of first base in the field, but given his arm and 6-foot-7, 223-pound frame, he is athletic enough to hold down right field as well. In the batter's box, power is clearly his carrying tool. He has an aggressive cut and gets good lift on the ball. This is not a comparison in any way, but his swing does remind me of Cody Bellinger.
In my opinion, playing in the field is possibly his stronger skill set. However, MLB.Com suggests that he could be a legitimate, two-way threat with a premium fastball and quality secondary offerings:
""On the mound, he shows feel for three pitches, with a fastball up to 95-96 mph, a very effective low-80s slider and the chance to have a solid changeup. He’s athletic on the mound and is generally around the strike zone, repeating his delivery well despite his 6-foot-7 frame.""- MLB.Com
The development of that changeup will be a key characteristic to monitor is that is likely the difference between him starting or coming out of the bullpen. Nevertheless, the two-way experiment continues with Eldridge as the Giants are following a rather unconventional approach with drafting and developing in the first round lately.