SF Giants target high-reward pitchers on Day 1 of draft

Carson Whisenhunt, you are a San Francisco Giant!
Carson Whisenhunt, you are a San Francisco Giant! / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 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.

SF Giants target high-reward pitchers on Day 1 of draft

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? We're here to get a first in-detail look at the 2022 SF Giants draft class starting with the first two selections.

Round 1: Reggie Crawford

Tool Grades:

As a pitcher: FB 60/70 | SL 45/55 | CH 30/40 | CMD 20/40
As a hitter: Hit 20/40 | Raw Power 70/70 | Game Power 40/55 | Speed 30/30 | Arm 70/70 | Field 50/50

FV: 45 (as a pitcher) | 40 (as a hitter)

Before we talk about the man himself, I will tell you a backstory. A day and a half before draft time, I was chatting with Prospects Live's (and good friend) Brian Recca in a group chat where he blurted out their latest mock draft where they have the Giants drafting Crawford with the first-round pick. I asked him if he was signable because Crawford announced that he will transfer to Tennessee just a few days prior. We talked more about Crawford like his two-way potential (Brian wants a full-time pitching gig for him and so do I quite honestly) among other things and we have come to the point where I asked him to choose who he likes more between Reggie and Alabama lefty (and Twins' second-rounder) Connor Prielipp. He told the pros and cons of both Reggie and Prielipp (one of the cons being the poor fastball shape) so I asked if Reggie's fastball shape is good and Brian said "very good". I said "I'll take Reggie haha." Quite a long backstory but you see where I'm going with the man.

Now let's talk about the man himself. The very first thing that you will notice is that Reggie is jacked. Vaun Brown has met his match. It looked like the 235 pounds of weight that he's carrying in his 6'4" frame is all muscle. He's doing extraordinarily well in his Tommy John rehab and it looked like he is ahead of schedule. Speaking of Tommy John, that's how Reggie's stock fell. He was literally blitzing the entire competition when he was with Team USA and in the Cape with his triple-digit heat and a world-ending slider and looked like he is a favorite to go inside the top 10 before he blew out his elbow.

As a pitcher, Reggie was a buzzsaw with his fastball that will likely sit in the 94-97 MPH range as a starter but could very well sit in the high-90s as a one-inning reliever. His heater comes from a 3/4 arm slot with a release height of below six feet providing a pretty flat fastball plane towards home plate with plenty of life (both rise and tail) relative to the sheer velocity. The slider was the perfect complement to his fastball and since he was pitching in relief for UConn, he did not need a changeup. You could see the effort when you watch Reggie pitch due to the explosive energy that he generates but the arm slot is as clean as you can get. For a guy who only pitched 16.1 total innings in his college career and underwent Tommy John, it's safe to assume that the control is below-average right now but who knows what could happen once he gets into the Giants pitching lab.

The Giants do plan on having Reggie do two-way work which I think is fine but the ceiling's lower as a position player. He plays good defense at first base where his athleticism shows out in tracking balls and digging short hops which makes me think if a corner outfield work is possible because he has the arm to do so. On the offensive side, the physicality shows out with his plus-plus power projection and a swing fit for it. His swing mechanics are pretty good (quiet stance, solid loading, not the handsiest of swings but taps his power well) but he almost has as many strikeouts as he has hits so the feel for the barrel is a question.

Having Reggie Crawford as your first pick is a great risk because he has one of the highest ceilings out of anyone in this draft class. If Reggie is a hit (e.g. the velocity is fully back, the feel to spin the slider is back, changeup improved, throws enough strikes in a starting role, hitting enough bombs, and playing strong first base), then this pick is a steal. If he does not, we can chalk it up as "last pick of the first round anyway, haha". The Giants definitely did their homework in terms of his medicals and his makeup is top-shelf which is important considering that 2020 first-rounder Patrick Bailey garnered a bad reputation with regards to his makeup once he stepped into pro ball. Even if Reggie is just a reliever, as long as the velocity has fully returned, he has a chance to reach the big leagues as a reliever who can play DH at times and become an "if you need to hit a homer from the left side" guy. 100 MPH is 100 MPH after all and he's shown enough strike-throwing when he was healthy to make it work in relief but the dream is for him to be a starter.

Round 2: Carson Whisenhunt

Tool Grades:

FB 45/50 | CH 60/70 | CB 45/50 | CMD 30/45

FV: 45

The Giants drafted yet another prospect who has not logged an inning of play this season in second-rounder Carson Whisenhunt from East Carolina. Let's get to the thick of things. Whisenhunt was suspended because of a positive PED test. Before you start yapping "why the hell did they draft a guy who was suspended because of steroids?", I will have to remind you that Logan Webb, yes, that Logan Webb that you are fully supporting right now, was suspended for 80 games in 2019 for testing positive for PEDs. Both Whisenhunt and Webb have a pretty similar backstory for the positive test: bought supplements that did not know have PEDs in them. Remember this story?

The lefty spent his time honing his work but not facing any level of competition is tough so he and his team decided to pitch in the Cape Cod League this season not only to gain much-needed lost ground but also for scouts to remember what they have missed.

Any chatter about Whisenhunt starts with his changeup. An effective changeup either has a good movement difference to the fastball or a good velocity difference, or both. It is a mid-80s offering that is an easy plus pitch right now that could become plus-plus if his other pitches come around in terms of consistency. It has legitimate fading action (due to its close to horizontal spin direction) reminiscent of the old Cole Hamels changeup and he throws it with fastball arm speed consistently. I can definitely see the Giants make that pitch a focused pitch for him, meaning "throw your best pitch the most" just like Nick Swiney. Unlike Swiney though, Whisenhunt packs some serious heat. Whisenhunt has a low-to-mid 90s fastball but its spin direction is pretty much on the dead zone (or close to the dreaded 10:30 spin direction) that it would not play as well as its radar gun reading might tell. Definitely, something that the Giants and his personal team will have to work out for it to play above the zone better. With a 10 MPH difference to his fastball, it makes the changeup play even more. Whisenhunt's worst pitch right now is his high-70s curveball with 11-5 action but it has shown flashes of being a solid-average pitch at times.

Listed at 6'3", Whisenhunt carries his 210 pounds listed weight well though it's pretty hard to see any projection remaining in his frame. That leaves him only via a mechanical tweak to unlock more velocity but I would consider his pitching motion as refined with short arm action and an overall clean motion. If anything, tweaking his fastball orientation or adopting either a cutter or a sinker might be the play for improvement for Whisenhunt. Of course, improving his control is important, and with a clean arm action and good athleticism on the mound, he projects to have fringy to average command capable of filling the strike zone with his pitches helping set his changeup.

With the way that the draft played out, Whisenhunt is the only one right now with a clean starter's look with three completely different pitches and enough strike-throwing to be effective in getting through an opposing lineup at least twice. The ceiling might be more of a 4-5 SP or a 45 FV but it is critical for him to tweak his fastball to generate more ride up in the zone and create more vertical separation with his changeup which will also help out his curveball as well. I have also seen Whisenhunt dabble with what looks like a slider but my eyes might be fooling me. He should have been a first-round pick but the Giants grabbed him with the final pick of the second round which is both mind-boggling and exciting at the same time. He should be signable so I'm excited of what he can do with the Giants pitching lab.