The San Francisco Giants' director of amateur scouting Michael Holmes has steered the ship whenever the MLB Draft comes around since he was hired from the Oakland Athletics by the president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in 2019. In Oakland, he served as the assistant scouting director. After he took over from the legendary John Barr, Holmes has brought his flavor to the amateur scouting department and not just a National League version of how Oakland deals with their business during draft day.
SF Giants Perceived Draft Tendencies Under Michael Holmes
After thoroughly examining the three draft classes that Holmes had the final call in the war room, here are some tendencies that the organization has done on draft day with some quotes that are retrieved from Civilization 6, a game that was a lot of fun to play during this off-season. Again, these tendencies came not from the Giants themselves. This is based on my judgment after scrutinizing their draft classes for the past three years under Michael Holmes.
"I’d imagine the whole world as one big machine. Machines never come with any spare parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need."
(DRAFTING FOR ORGANIZATION DEPTH NEEDS)
Over the past three drafts, the front office has done a great job to fill the holes in the organizational depth chart. It's like whenever it's the Draft Day, they not only have their draft board up but also their organizational depth chart up as well. Entering the 2019 season, even though the farm system is pretty even in terms of both hitting and pitching talent, hitting leads at the top of the organization. What did they do? They drafted hitters with nine of their first ten picks. It's not so much to address a need in the organization as it helped set up their depth chart for the next season.
With the next season, though, the front office started filling out their holes big time with the seven picks that they had. A gaping hole in the catching depth chart after Joey Bart? They drafted Patrick Bailey. A very thin third baseman depth aside from Luis Toribio? They drafted Casey Schmitt. A very thin left-handed pitching depth? They drafted Nick Swiney and Kyle Harrison. A lack of second baseman depth? They drafted Jimmy Glowenke. A general pitching depth issue? They drafted R.J. Dabovich and Ryan Murphy aside from Swiney and Harrison. The front office did as well as they could with their picks in the 2020 draft to address their needs in the depth chart.
Heading to the 2021 Draft, the organization has a massive pitching depth issue. What did they do? They drafted pitchers with their first nine picks. And now, the farm system is back to its balanced state of strong hitting and pitching depth. However, there is still an issue of depth in the infield. If this trend holds, we might most likely see an infielder get drafted in the first round this year.
"Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort."
(DRAFTING POOL-SAVING COLLEGE PICKS EARLY)
This is the most obvious tendency that the Giants have. They draft players with their first two selections who are willing to take an under-slot bonus to have a bigger spending capability on Day Two and even Day Three where, as they call it, "the real draft starts". It's like they have deliberated on which prospects will take an under-slot deal with the club and then put them on a shortlist. If one of those said shortlisted prospects is a legitimate first-round talent worthy of picking around their selection, they will most likely pull the trigger.
This has happened over the three drafts under Holmes. In 2019, they saved 1.08 million in pool money when they signed Hunter Bishop and Logan Wyatt to signing bonuses that were $640,000 and $400,000 under-slot, respectively. In 2020, they saved $760,000 in pool money when they signed Patrick Bailey and Casey Schmitt to bonuses that were $400,000 and $360,000 under-slot, respectively. In 2021, it happened once again when they saved up to $660,000 in pool money when they signed Will Bednar and Matt Mikulski to deals that were $390,000 and $270,000 under-slot, respectively.
In 2022, the Giants' first two selections will most likely follow the same trend of signing for under-slot deals to have more spending money for their later selections.
“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
(TAKING LEGITIMATE FIRST-ROUND TALENTS WITH THEIR FIRST PICK)
Even though the Giants under Michael Holmes do love to save up bonus pool money with their first picks, they do not take prospects who are perceived as discount picks. They take legitimate first-round talents.
When they selected Hunter Bishop with their first-round pick (10th overall) in 2019, both MLB.com and Baseball America ranked him as their seventh-best prospect. When the front office selected Patrick Bailey 13th overall in 2020, MLB.com ranked the catcher from NC State as their number 17 prospect in the draft class while Baseball America ranked him in number 14. When Will Bednar was selected with the 14th overall selection in the 2021 draft, Baseball America have him as their number 18 prospect in the draft class while MLB.com ranked him at number 32 although they did their final rankings during the middle of Bednar's explosion in the College World Series.
Expect the organization to not discount talent when it's their turn to draft with their first-round pick in 2022. Even if they try to discount talent, the ranking of their draft choice should not be far off from where most major baseball sites ranked the prospect.
"Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.”
(NOT AFRAID TO SIGN COLLEGE PROSPECTS TO DAY TWO OVER-SLOT DEALS)
When thinking of over-slot deals, it is often associated with high school prospects because of their college commitments and their tendency to ask for a certain amount of money, often in the seven-figure range, to lure them away from their college commitments where they have a shot of blossoming and earning even more money in three years. However, the Giants have proven that it is not just the high school prospects that sign for over-slot money but also college prospects as well. The caveat is that the organization only does it on the second day of the draft, not the first.
In 2019, seventh-rounder Armani Smith from UC Santa Barbara signed for $80,000 over-slot and eighth-rounder Caleb Kilian from Texas Tech signed for a little under $225,000 over-slot. In 2020, second-rounder Nick Swiney from NC State signed for a little under $225,000 over-slot, like Kilian. In 2021, sixth-rounder Seth Lonsway from Ohio State signed for just over $18,000 over-slot as a senior, which is very interesting, and eighth-rounder Ian Villers from Cal signed for just over $40,000 over-slot.
If you have the talent, the Giants will not be afraid to sign you for over-slot money even though you are a college prospect, let alone a college senior like Lonsway, where he supposedly had very little leverage over his asking price. It's safe to say that it worked out pretty well with Kilian while Smith and Swiney have held serve last season. The expectation is that the organization should go this route once again.