2021 MLB Draft: Four pitchers who could buck Giants' recent trend

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  • Jordan Wicks
    American baseball player

Will Giants end streak, pick pitcher No. 14 in MLB draft? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Giants have a type when it comes to their first-round pick in the MLB draft: Hitters, especially those with college experience. 

In the last six years, the Giants have taken a hitter with their top pick every time. All but Heliot Ramos, who attended the Leadership Christian Academy in Puerto Rico, played collegiately. Even when the Giants didn't have a first-round pick in 2016, they added Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds when they finally were on the clock. 

You'd have to go back to 2015 to find when the Giants picked a pitcher in the first round. They went with Phil Bickford out of the College of Southern Nevada with the No. 18 overall pick. The millenial version of Spicoli was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 1, 2016. He now pitches for the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and has a 1.72 ERA in 15 relief appearances. 

After going hitter-heavy at the top of the draft the past few years, only two pitchers -- Kyle Harrison and Seth Corry -- are seen as top-10 prospects in the Giants' farm system. With the July 11 draft nearly here, could the Giants buck their recent trade and aim for an impact arm in the first round? 

Here are four pitchers they could target, with two who could help in the near future and two who are more of a risk.

Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State

At one point or another, Wicks has been slated to go to the Giants in mock drafts. Across multiple big boards, he's listed right in that 12 to 18 range in the draft. Depending on how the top 10 shakes out, Wicks could fall in the Giants' lap. 

Wicks, 21, is a strong 6-foot-3 and 220-pound lefty out of Kansas State. He went 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA in his shortened season last year and followed that up by going 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA that summer in the Northwoods League.  Wicks then went 6-3 with a 3.70 ERA over 15 starts as a junior this season. 

Throughout his junior year, Wicks' fastball sat at 92 to 93 mph and he consistently reached 95 mph. His best pitch is a wicked changeup, which might be the best in the entire draft. Wicks has great feel for the game on the mound and pinpoint command.

Wicks broke the Kansas State record books in his storied three-year career. While he's seen as a high-floor prospect, he raised his ceiling this season by increasing his velocity and averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. In 203 career innings, Wicks struck out 230 batters and walked only 58. He's someone who could be an easy climber in the minors and help the Giants in the near future. 

Ty Madden, RHP, Texas 

Madden might be the draft's best college pitcher in the draft behind Vanderbilt's duo of Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker. He currently is ranked as Baseball America's No. 12 prospect in the draft. Wicks is ranked No. 13. 

The 21-year-old is listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, and was one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in college this season. His fastball hit 99 mph with ease this year. It also works much better down in the zone than up, which goes against modern coaching. 

Madden also performed brilliantly on the biggest stage, allowing four earned runs and striking out 18 batters over two starts (13 innings) against Mississippi State in the College World Series.

In 18 starts, Madden went 7-5 with a 2.45 ERA as a junior for Texas. He struck out 137 batters in 113 2/3 innings, and had a 1.047 WHIP. Madden is a competitor who isn't afraid of the moment, and has a long history of success going into the draft. 

Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss

Now, it's time to take a chance. 

Hoglund comes with risk and a whole lot of promise. He's a prototypical right-hander at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, but his junior year came to an early end due to Tommy John surgery. 

Before his injury, Hoglund was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 9 prospect in the draft and a legitimate top-10 pick. He now is ranked as their No. 18 prospect and should be available for San Francisco. The Giants of course would have to be asking themselves if he's worth the risk. 

From high school to college, Hoglund's history suggests the answer could be yes. 

Hoglund was a supplemental first-round pick out of high school but opted to go the college route. Before the season ended abruptly last year, he was 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA and had 37 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings as a sophomore. He then cemented his status as a top draft pick before going down to injury. 

The fomer Rebel was 4-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 11 starts, and had 96 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings before his right arm let him down. Surgery will keep Hoglund until midway through 2022. Rolling the dice just might be worth it for the Giants, though. 

Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee High School

Chandler might be the most high-risk, high-reward prospect in the entire draft. Baseball America also has reported the Giants were "pretty heavy" on Chandler early on. That might have changed, though. 

Chandler isn't just a two-way prep star, he also is a two-sport star who is committed to play baseball and football at Clemson. ESPN ranks Chandler as a four-star quarterback, and it could be hard to sway him away from college. But money talks, and he's expected to receive first-round money. 

Most teams appear to prefer Chandler on the mound as opposed to shortstop, but there reportedly are a handful that would be comfortable with him attempting to do both. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds while only 18 years old, he has the size that fits any position, with plenty of room to grow. It's hard not to open your eyes at his massive potential. 

RELATED: Luciano, Giants prospects rise in Baseball America Top 100

The prep star is far from refined on the mound, in the box or at shortstop. He relies way more on pure talent and athleticism right now more than anything else. And that's just fine. 

Will the Giants be the team to make the risk and do what they can to keep Chandler away from Clemson? It worked for them last year with Harrison and making sure he didn't step foot on the UCLA campus. 

No matter what, Chandler easily is one of the most intriguing prospects to watch in this year's draft.

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