SF Giants Perceived Draft Tendencies Under Michael Holmes

SF Giants director of amateur scouting Michael Holmes' first-ever selection, Hunter Bishop
SF Giants director of amateur scouting Michael Holmes' first-ever selection, Hunter Bishop / Patrick Breen/The Republic
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Wilmer Flores, Patrick Bailey
Michael Holmes' second first round selection Patrick Bailey / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

SF Giants Perceived Draft Tendencies Under Michael Holmes

"And, being merry and young, they did not miss any chances of hearing about the beautiful maids of the city."


In the three years that Michael Holmes and company have done the draft for the Giants, a thing that emerged is that they value the age of college prospects in the first round. Hunter Bishop, Patrick Bailey, and Will Bednar were exactly 21 years of age, meaning they were born within a month of the draft. Coincidence? I think not! However, this is crucial information, especially when looking at future drafts regarding college prospects in the first round.

"We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves."


However, they do not mind drafting prepsters who are considered as old for their class, or age is not a big factor in their high school draft prospect models within the first ten rounds. Looking at the 2019 draft class, Grant McCray, Garrett Frechette, and Trevor McDonald were at least three months older than Dilan Rosario, who was exactly 18 years old when he was drafted. From both the 2020 and the 2021 classes, Kyle Harrison and Eric Silva were even older, as they are only a couple of months shy of their 19th birthdays when they were drafted.

“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”


Even before the Farhan Zaidi era, the organization has historically targeted power hitters in past and the scouting corps now led by Holmes is no different. Much of the scouts that Holmes now leads are with the organization for decades at most and Holmes does not like to "cookie cut what they should like".

Over the past three drafts, the Giants loved their prospects who have at least above-average or plus raw power in their profile and they seem to target this demographic from early-round to the third day of the draft. Examples of them targeting this demographic are Hunter Bishop, Garrett Frechette, Armani Smith, Harrison Freed, Carter Aldrete, Connor Cannon, Patrick Bailey, Vaun Brown, and Jared Dupere. Expect them to target this demographic again one way or another in this year's draft.

“There is no easy way to train an apprentice. My two tools are example and nagging.”


If there is one tendency that the organization has with their high school hitting, it's that they like it toolsy. It means that they prefer their prospects to either have plus speed, plus raw power, plus bat speed, plus athleticism, plus defensive potential in their position, or a combination of those three even if there is a relative rawness in their hitting profile that needs plenty of polishing.

Examples of these include Grant McCray and Donovan McIntyre with his plus speed, athleticism, and defensive profile in the outfield, Dilan Rosario with raw power and defensive potential at shortstop, Garrett Frechette, and Irvin Murr with his plus raw power in their bats. If the Giants target a high school position player in this year's draft, expect it to be on the toolsy side rather than a polished profile.

“Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.”


The Giants have only signed three high school pitchers within the top 15 rounds over the past three years, one each year. However, this is the demographic that they shelled out the most pool money in those said three years. In 2019, 11th rounder Trevor McDonald was tied with Garrett Frechette with the highest signing bonus given to a prep player in the draft class ($800,000). In 2020, they opened the vault and gave Kyle Harrison late-first round money to lure him away from his UCLA commit ($2,500,000). In 2021, they handed out $1,500,000 or equivalent to a top 50 pick to sign Eric Silva away from his UCLA commitment.

What do these three prospects have in common? They are high school pitchers where they are more known for their pitchability rather than pure stuff while also being athletic on the mound. The difference between McDonald, Harrison, and Silva is that McDonald is more of a pop-up prospect who burst into the spotlight after a dominant outing in January that year while both Harrison and Silva are already known commodities with a great track record. McDonald and Harrison had deception built into their deliveries while Silva was the better athlete and was the hardest thrower by the time they were drafted. Based on the 2021 returns, though, McDonald is holding his own while Harrison turned out to be decent.

The Giants will likely target this demographic and hand out their highest Day Two signing bonus to a prep pitching prospect once again in 2022.

"It is known that man has five Exterior Senses, and every sense is ignorant of each other; for the Nose knows not what the Eyes see, nor the Eyes what the Ears hear, neither do the Ears know what the Tongue tastes..."


One of the organizational philosophies of San Francisco is to draft hitters with strong strike-zone control. It means that they have at least respectable strikeout and walk rates or exemplary at best. San Francisco has carried this over to the draft as well when selecting collegiate position players.

Within the first 20 rounds, the Giants' position players they drafted and signed have a walk rate of at least 8% in the year that they were drafted led by Logan Wyatt's ridiculous 22.1% walk rate in 2019 (2020 shortened season not included) except 2019 eighth-round selection Simon Whiteman who had a walk rate of 6.31% in his senior season. However, Whiteman also had the lowest strikeout rate of every position player drafted and signed in the past three with just 6.80%. Strikeout rates do not matter that much as long as the prospect has the power to show for.

Hunter Bishop, Carter Aldrete, Connor Cannon, Patrick Bailey, and Jared Dupere all had a strikeout rate above 20% in their draft-eligible years but have at least above-average power. Only 2019 16th rounder Brandon Martorano had a strikeout rate greater than 20% but does not have the thump that the other prospects in the group have.

"You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ‘cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!”


The only tendency that is hard to pinpoint from the Michael Holmes-led draft classes is their very fluid preference for their pitchers. In 2019 and 2020, the Giants drafted college starting pitchers in the first ten rounds that are considered being more towards pitchability than pure stuff with Caleb Kilian, Nick Swiney, and Ryan Murphy.

However, they completely flipped the script around in 2021 and drafted starters who are more stuff than pitchability. Pitchers like Will Bednar, Matt Mikulski, Mason Black, Rohan Handa, and Seth Lonsway were not exactly prominent strike-throwers (except Bednar) but what they have is the velocity and the wipeout secondaries that the coaches will do all that they can to harness their stuff.

When they target pure relievers, they prefer target velocity. Guys like Chris Wright, Nick Morreale, Cole Waites, Kanoa Pagan, R.J. Dabovich, and Ian Villers, just to name a few, can bring it on the mound and pump mid-90s fastballs with a nasty secondary pitch.

However, the organization’s pitching success in the big-league club to implement seam-shifted wakes and flat vertical approach angles that produced success stories like Alex Wood and Logan Webb trickled down to their draft tendencies and the 2021 pitching class can see their arm slots get lowered and implement seam-shifted wake-friendly properties to their pitch mix. That makes their draft tendencies towards college pitching and pitching in general a hard thing to pin down.

With a shifting tendency towards their pitching references, it's best to look at their latest class to see what will probably their preferences will be with their next draft. Based on their 2021 draft class, pitchers who have strong sweeping properties with their breaking balls and a late-breaking sinker are the likeliest profile that the scouting department will target for this year’s draft.