UA closer leads off Day 2 of Giants Draft
San Francisco loads up on arms in pitching-rich pool
SAN FRANCISCO -- One day after the Giants made their first three selections in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, they immediately selected another player initially expected to go on the first day, too. San Francisco made University of Arizona relief pitcher Jason Stoffel its fourth-round pick to start Wednesday's portion of the three-day Draft.
UA's all-time saves leader (29) had a down year last season, posting a 4.67 ERA in 54 innings pitched. But as a freshman and sophomore he closed out the Wildcats' games ahead of 2008 first-round picks Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, going a combined 9-2 and collecting 18 saves in 60 appearances. That had many around the game pegging Stoffel as a top relief pitching prospect. Instead, he wasn't even the first Pac-10 Conference closer drafted in his class. That honor fell to Stanford's Drew Storen, who was picked 10th overall Tuesday.
"I hoped for a little bit higher, but who doesn't?" Stoffel asked. "No, I'm perfectly fine with where I went."
According to MLB.com's scouting reports, concerns grew over Stoffel's conditioning -- he weighs 225 pounds at 6 feet, 1 inch tall. A dropoff in command -- his strikeout-to-walk ratio worsened from 79-to-15 in 2008 to 55-to-25 in 2009 -- didn't help either.
"I wish I had a better year," he said, "but [it] was definitely a learning experience."
Stoffel's stuff -- a mid-90s fastball and power curveball -- and his early success at UA spurred the Giants to make the pick. The fact that the right-hander beat out two talented college teammates to man the ninth inning must have figured into the decision as well.
"It was an honor," Stoffel said of being tabbed the closer by UA coach Andy Lopez. "Both those guys have great stuff. They're showing that [now] with where they are."
Giants -- Top five selections
|6||RHP||Zachary Wheeler||East Paulding HS|
|55||C||Thomas Joseph||Horizon HS|
|86||3B||Christopher Dominguez||U Louisville|
|117||RHP||Jason Stoffel||U Arizona|
|147||1B||Brandon Belt||U Texas Austin|
|Complete Giants Draft results >|
Schlereth (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Perry (Detroit Tigers) both made their big league debuts earlier this season. Furthermore, UA pitchers Preston Guilmet and Cory Burns joined Stoffel as 2009 selections.
Stoffel said he intends to skip his senior season at UA to sign with the Giants -- clubs have until Aug. 17 to sign all of their Draft picks -- and added he's glad four of the organization's six Minor League teams compete on the West Coast. The Southern California native said being a closer in the big leagues is his ultimate goal.
"He's got a quality arm, he's been a part of a quality program," said Bobby Evans, the Giants' vice president of baseball operations "He's statistically maybe a victim of a few bad outings, but otherwise has a lot of ability and upside."
Evans said he expects the Giants Draftees with college experience, Stoffel included, will start their careers with the Class A Short-Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
Making the sixth pick of every round, San Francisco selected 14 other hurlers Wednesday in Rounds 4 through 30 of what's been billed as a pitching-deep pool.
The Draft will conclude Thursday with the 31st through 50th rounds, beginning at 8:30 a.m. PT. MLB.com's continued coverage will include a live pick-by-pick audio stream, expert commentary and the exclusive Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player, featuring statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.
There's reason to believe the Giants may have found a future Major League contributor during Wednesday's later rounds. San Francisco selected its current closer, Brian Wilson, in the 24th round in 2003 and its No. 5 starting pitcher, Jonathan Sanchez, in the 27th round in 2004. Here are the club's other picks thus far in 2009:
Round 5, Brandon Belt, 1B, University of Texas
The left-handed-hitting Belt led the Longhorns with a .336 batting average. He hit eight home runs in 57 games. Belt's Longhorns will compete in the 2009 NCAA College World Series, starting with their first-round game Sunday against the University of Southern Mississippi.
Round 6, Matthew Graham, RHP, Oak Ridge (Texas) HS
According to MLB.com's scouting reports, Graham can pump his fastball into the mid-90s but needs to improve his secondary pitches and his mechanics. The 6-foot-4-inch Texan has a "Roger Clemens-type body," the report stated.
Round 7, Nick Liles, 2B, Western Carolina University
Liles hit .367 and made the move from second base to center field midway through last season. In 56 games, he hit nine home runs and stole 24 bags. The Giants drafted Liles in the 2006 Draft's 29th round.
Round 8, Karl Benusa, CF, Riverview (Pa.) HS
Round 9, Evan Crawford, CF, Indiana
Crawford is simply a speedster. The right-handed batter stole 61 bases in 64 attempts in his three seasons at Indiana. He hit .323 his junior season.
Round 10, Jeremy Toole, RHP, Brigham Young University
In his one season at BYU, Toole went 5-5 with a 5.77 ERA in 14 starts. A season highlight: He threw a complete-game three-hitter against the University of Utah, striking out nine batters.
Round 11, John Eshleman, SS, Mount San Jacinto College (Calif.)
Eshleman was the second of three players from MSJC taken in the Draft's first 14 rounds. Eshleman hit .436, setting the program's single-season hits record.
Round 12, Christopher Heston, RHP, East Carolina University
As his team's No. 2 starting pitcher last season, Heston went 7-0 with a 4.17 ERA in 15 starts (17 appearances). He struck out 88 in 90 2/3 innings pitched.
Round 13, Shawn Sanford, RHP, University of South Florida
After saving a combined 22 games in the closer role in 2007 and 2008, Sanford moved out of the bullpen in 2009. In 10 starts (17 appearances) he went 5-4 with a 4.68 ERA.
Round 14, Brian Salsbury, RHP, Mount San Jacinto Junior College (Calif.)
Salsbury won 13 games for MSJC, whiffing 127 hitters in 111 innings pitched.
Round 15, Kyle Vazquez, RHP, Franklin Pierce University
Vazquez, selected to the Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association All-America Third Team, was his team's top starting pitcher last season. He went 8-1 on the mound, posting a 1.93 ERA. He threw three shutouts on the season, striking out 112 batters in 93 1/3 innings pitched.
Round 16, Ryan Cavan, SS, University of California Santa Barbara
Cavan already listed the Giants as his favorite big league team. Now he likely loves the organization. In one season at UCSB -- after playing at Trinity College in 2006, Chapman University in 2007 and sitting out in 2008 -- Cavan hit .341 and scored 50 runs in 49 games.
Round 17, Christopher Gloor, LHP, Quinnipiac University (Conn.)
Gloor went 7-4 with a 4.63 ERA in 12 starts this past season, retiring 81 batters on strikes in 81 2/3 innings pitched. "I was listening on the radio and waiting and when I heard my name, it finally hit me," Gloor said, according to his school's Web site. "I knew there were teams that were interested in me, and right before San Francisco's pick, my advisor mentioned that the Giants may take me soon. I'm excited to get started as soon as I'm assigned to one of their affiliates."
Round 18, Jonathan Walsh, OF, Coppell (Texas) HS
The switch-hitting Walsh mainly played catcher last season, though there are concerns about his future at that position, according to MLB.com's scouting reports. Walsh has signed a letter of intent to play collegiately at the University of Texas.
Round 19, Jason Walls, RHP, Troy University
In one season at Troy, Walls went 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 13 starts.
Round 20, Mitchell Mormann, RHP, Des Moines Area Community College (Iowa)
Mormann won 10 games in 13 starts last season, posting a 3.40 ERA. The pitcher could make for an imposing presence on the mound as he stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall.
Round 21, Zachary Wasserman, 1B, Lake Shore (Mich.) HS
Round 22, Andrew Biery, 3B, Kansas State University
Biery played shortstop in college but was drafted to man the hot corner. He played four seasons at KSU, finishing his senior year with a .329 batting average and nine home runs in 57 games.
Round 23, Adam Champion, LHP, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Giants fans will want the organization to sign this 6-foot-7 junior, if only for his surname. Champion did have a lopsided win-loss record (3-7), however, and sported a 5.60 ERA.
Round 24, Alexander Burg, C, Washington State University
Burg -- Seinfeld aficionados would say he has a nice "John Houseman name" -- played two seasons at Clemson before finishing his amateur career with two more at WSU. In 2009, he led the Cougars with a .346 batting average.
Round 25, Steven Rogers, RHP, Tulane University
The junior, who goes by his middle name, Taylor, had a 4.43 ERA in 14 games last season.
Round 26, Luis Munoz, CF, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School
Round 27, Kyle Mach, 3B, University of Missouri
The four-year player led the Tigers in hitting (.335 batting average) last season and struck out just 19 times in 224 at-bats. His grandfather, Phil Gagliano, played 12 seasons with four big leagues teams and won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968.
Round 28, Jamaine Cotton, RHP, Western Oklahoma State College
Cotton, who hails from the U.S. Virgin Islands, won 10 games in 13 starts this past season.
Round 29, Luke Demko, RHP, University of Rhode Island
Demko struck out 44 batters in 33 innings pitched in 2009, earning 11 saves in the process. The 6-foot-7 closer is listed between 260 and 289 pounds.
Round 30, Craig Westcott, RHP, Belhaven College (Miss.)
In 2009 Westcott put up all the numbers desired of a pitching prospect. In 17 starts, he went 11-4 with a 3.29 ERA and threw seven complete games (five shutouts). He also fanned 124 batters in just 90 1/3 innings pitched. His task will be to do more of the same against fiercer competition.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.