The San Francisco Giants selected Mississippi State right-hander Chris Stratton with the 20th overall pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Now that I’ve successfully replicated Bud Selig’s wooden performance as Draft emcee, I’ll talk to you about this Stratton character.
He’s a junior power pitcher with strong command and four pitches, although he has a few things to work on now that he’s set to become a professional.
Stratton started his career on the Bulldogs pitching staff as a reliever and racked up nine saves his freshman year. His tremendous 2012 season opened eyes around the country and vaulted him into the late first round of the Draft. Stratton pitched 109 2/3 innings, by far the most on the Bulldogs staff this year, and went 11-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 123 strikeouts, fifth best among college pitchers.
All that earned Stratton the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year award. Stratton became the first MSU pitcher in history to win the award.
One of Stratton’s best tools is his mound presence and his ability to hold runners on base. He combines that with his great control and varied repertoire. Stratton’s best pitch is the fastball, which ranges from 90-94 and has gone as high as 97-98. He also throws a slider at 82-84 and his other pitches, a curveball and a changeup, are average at best. All but the fastball need work, but with a great fastball, good control, and a good body type (6’2″, 200), the other stuff is okay for now.
Suddenly the Giants have a projectable arm that could be ready for Major League action quickly. The future will have to wait at least for another day; Stratton and the rest of the MSU Bulldogs are still in the NCAA tournament.
The Giants seemed eager to jump on Stratton. The 19 teams that picked ahead of the Giants took the full five minutes for each first round pick. The New York Mets pick was a few seconds overdue. Good ol’ Bud stepped up to the podium with 25 seconds left on the clock and made the announcement, in between his stumbling over words and presumably botching whatever was written on his note cards. Homeboy looked down at the lectern every two seconds each time he was on stage.
So the Giants like Stratton. I kinda like him, too. The most popular comps out there for him are Aaron Crow and Zack Greinke. Most of what I’ve heard and read about Stratton terms him as a “second-tier” pitching prospect. I guess that means he’s not in the same class as the top-10 guys like Kyle Zimmer and Kevin Gausman.
If I had two cents to throw into the Giants war room on Draft day, I expected them to go with a high school pitcher, like Ty Hensley, Matt Smoral, or maybe Zach Eflin, who appeared as an option for the Giants on a recent Baseball America mock draft writeup. I expected that to happen because the Giants have one of the lowest budgets in this year’s Draft, at just over $4 million. Only the Rays, Braves, and Diamondbacks have less money to throw around this year.
For Stratton’s MSU bio, click here: http://www.hailstate.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=16800&ATCLID=204883167
Here’s his 2012 stats: http://www.nmnathletics.com/fls/16800/stats/bb/2012/teamcume.htm
Funny enough, the Diamondbacks drafted high school catcher Stryker Trahan as I was typing this analysis of the Giants first round activity. I let myself believe the Giants would draft Trahan, despite the fact that it would add a fifth catcher to the Giants system. It kinda felt like something they’d do. Or maybe it’s a weak ploy to justify the fact that I like Trahan’s name.
My favorite player of the Draft so far is the newest Chicago White Sox outfielder, Courtney Hawkins. He executed a backflip on live TV at the MLB Network studio and later on laughed in an on-air interview about the White Sox brass calling him and telling him never to do that again the second he stuck the landing.
Day 1 is just the beginning. Day 2 is coming at you tomorrow at 9am Pacific time via conference call and webcast on MLB.com. Rounds 2-15 take place tomorrow. I will bring you analysis and info of each of those picks tomorrow and I will do the same on Day 3, which contains rounds 16-40.
Also, I’d love to do a Draft mailbag/Q&A session so please send your questions to me for that. I’ll announce the day that piece will run soon.
(Sorry no gifs)