There was no doubt that Spencer Torkelson would go first overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, but it was a bit of a surprise when the Detroit Tigers announced the Arizona State first baseman as a third baseman Wednesday.
Positions can be fluid in the first round. A high school shortstop often becomes a professional center fielder. Relief pitchers move to the rotation, and vice versa.
But catchers taken in the first round tend to stay behind the plate. They are, after all, being selected there in large part because of defensive skills.
It was a bit of a surprise, then, when the Giants took North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey two years after selecting Joey Bart second overall. But there was no shock on the various Zoom calls that team officials were holding.
"I think this sort of embodies two old baseball adages that you don't draft for need -- I won't even say need, but perceived need -- and you can never have too much catching," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. "Bailey may have been the guy that just had the broadest consensus in our group, from (scouting director Micheal Holmes) to the rest of his scouting group, to our analytics department which loved the power and patience and defensive skills. It was a really strong consensus pick for us as an organization.
"We were obviously thrilled that he was there, and it was actually a pretty easy decision for us."
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Holmes used to live 15 minutes from Bailey's high school in North Carolina and has been watching him for years. He got some extra looks last spring as Giants officials considered NC State shortstop Will Wilson -- later added via trade -- for their first-round pick.
Because the coronavirus cut the college baseball season short, the Giants didn't get a full view of the class. But they saw enough of Bailey to know he would be their guy at No. 13.
"I've really seen not only his growth and maturity on the field, but off the field as well," Holmes said. "Simply put, he was at a spot on our board where -- we're in the business of best available player -- and it was just too good of a talent for us not to be in play on."
Bailey hit .296 with six homers and three doubles in 54 at-bats as a junior. He had a .466 on-base percentage and .685 slugging percentage when the season was halted. Holmes said every scout he sent to see Bailey came away raving about his ability.
"We really think we got a guy that can impact the game on both sides," he said.
Zaidi listed two old scouting adages as he started his post-draft media session, but there's a third theme that often is cited by reporters. Teams always tell you they got the best player on their board in the first round. They always tell you he was the player they were targeting.
In most years, it's easy to take those statements with a huge grain of salt. But when an organization already is so set at catcher and goes out and gets another one, you know they must really love the player.
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The Giants were thrilled that Bailey was still available when they were put on the clock, and Bailey, a Texas Rangers fan who once had his heart broken by his new organization, felt the same way. He said he wasn't at all surprised to hear his name at No. 13.
"We had conversations before the draft and they said that they were taking the best available talent, and I guess that was me at that point," Bailey said. "I'm fortunate and really happy to be with this organization."
Giants' Farhan Zaidi calls drafting Patrick Bailey an 'easy' decision originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area