Breaking down how Giants used their picks in the 2021 draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Giants didn't exactly pull a Los Angeles Angels -- taking only pitchers -- but it's clear pitching was a priority for San Francisco in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The three-day event came to an end Tuesday, and the majority of the Giants' selections will toe the rubber instead of picking up a bat on a daily basis. It all started with Mississippi State right-hander Will Bednar, who the Giants tabbed with the No. 14 overall pick. That started a run of nine straight pitchers to start the Giants' draft this year.
Outfielder Vaun Brown broke the streak in the 10th round, and the Giants of course added a handful of other hitters as well. Now that this year's 20-round draft is in the books, let's break down how the orange and black went about their business.
The more the Giants watched Bednar, the more they loved the former Bulldog. When the lights shined brightest, he became his best on the biggest stage. Bednar was named the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player, and in doing so, became the fastest riser in this year's draft class.
As for where Bednar will start his pro career, the Giants first want to get pen to paper. But Michael Holmes, the organization's director of amateur scouting, knows what Bednar would say if asked the question.
"Don't ask Will where he wants to go, because he'll say [Oracle Park]," Holmes joked Tuesday to Giants media.
The Giants wound up picking 14 pitchers in all. Only one, Eric Silva in the fourth round, was taken out of high school. The rest have college experience.
Unsurprisingly, the Giants went after pitchers who can make hitters swing and miss, especially with their stuff in the zone. Matt Mikulski, their second-round pick, is a lefty who led all of Division-I in strikeouts per nine innings at 16.3, and finished the year with 124 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings. Five rounds later, San Francisco selected Nick Sinacola from Maine, who finished right behind Mikulski in strikeouts per nine with 15.8, and he had the second-most total strikeouts with 139.
Seth Lonsway, San Francisco's sixth-round pick, had 13.0 strikeouts per nine for Ohio State this year, had 42 strikeouts in only 18 innings during the COVID-19 shortened season in 2020 and finished his first year as a Buckeye with 12.3 K/9 in 2019.
Of their remaining six picks, the Giants added three outfielders, two shortstops and a third baseman. Finding players in later rounds is all about identifying at least one big tool, and there seems to be some power potential in this group.
Jared Dupere, a left-handed hitting outfielder from Northeastern, was the CAA Player of the Year after hitting 21 homers this season and wound up as the Giants' pick in the 13th round. Two rounds later, the Giants added 15 more homers from switch-hitting utility man Brooks Baldwin.
The Giants clearly put an emphasis on pitching, but they like the bats they added and Dupere and Baldwin are both experienced college hitters worth watching in the future.
College vs. High School
Not only was there an emphasis placed on pitching, but the Giants also valued college prospects more than high school this year. Only four of the Giants' 20 picks were high school players.
Silva is the only one who was taken before Day 3, but Holmes likes the Giants' chances of inking all their picks.
"I think that we'll be competitive," Holmes said. "We feel pretty good in some areas. We're just gonna let the process play out. I think both parties -- the players and their families -- know where they're at and we know where we're at, but we kind of entered a lot of these ventures knowing how it's gonna play out."
It's no secret the Giants have had their eyes on the Carolinas the last few years. After drafting Patrick Bailey and Nick Swiney last year, and acquiring Will Wilson the year before, the Giants somehow didn't pick a prospect from North Carolina State this year.
That didn't stop the Carolina love, though.
The Giants picked four players from a North Carolina school and one from a South Carolina school. From high school to all levels of college, this area is full of talent. And the Giants will continue scouting the Carolinas heavily in the years to come.
The Most Interesting Prospect
There aren't many stories like Rohan Handa's, and I don't even have the room here to do it justice. He was (kind of) drafted out of Yale, but it goes much deeper than that. Here's the shortened version.
Handa, a left-handed pitcher, spent the 2019 season and shortened 2020 season at Yale where he appeared in 20 games, starting just two of them. He allowed 21 earned runs in 31 2/3 innings, striking out just 19 batters. Yale didn't have a season this year, and Handa took advantage of his opportunity.
With the Ivy League season canceled, Handa pitched in the New England Collegiate League for the Mystic Schooners where his fastball went from sitting in the 80s to touching 97 mph. Handa allowed one earned run in 17 innings for the Schooners and struck out 25 batters.
Semi-jokingly, he just might be the Giants' next Shohei Ohtani too.
Handa also became the fourth Indian-American pitcher drafted in the last three years. There weren't any taken in the MLB draft before 2019. Holmes gave all credit to Ray Callari as the area scout who identified Handa, and the Giants were lucky enough to see him a handful of times before the draft.
"He was on our radar prior to the season, but obviously with the Ivy League not having a baseball season and it being canceled this year -- we had a chance to see him at some workouts throughout the spring," Holmes said. "He actually threw at a workout in Charlotte where he's from during the ACC Tournament -- which we happened to be there covering -- which we were able to evaluate.
"And then obviously in the New England Collegiate League, throwing there, we followed up. ... We really were able to send quite a few guys to workouts and to the New England Collegiate League where we felt really, really confident with Rohan."
This might be the most interesting story in the draft, and one that deserves more telling.