How five-round MLB draft would have impacted current Giants, past stars


Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski has a sweet swing from the left side, a discerning eye at the plate and a solid all-around game. He has been preparing for this life since he was in the crib, and after high school in New England he went to Vanderbilt, one of the best college baseball programs in the country.

He learned the game from a grandfather, who is in the Hall of Fame, and a father who played professionally. 

But if Yastrzemski had been chasing his dreams in 2020 instead of 2013, he likely never would have gotten a chance to carry on the family tradition. 

There's a lot we don't know about the 2020 MLB season. What we do know is that the owners -- in a bid to save a bit of cash and perhaps wrestle away a bit more control -- have cut the draft to five rounds. That's a nightmare for players trying to follow the footsteps of someone like Yastrzemski, a 14th-round selection by the Orioles seven years ago.

The best of the best will still get drafted, and many will return to school and try again in 2021, but hundreds of players will slip through the cracks. Here's a look at how the short-sighted rule change would have impacted the Giants dynasty and the current roster: 

Sergio Romo: As a small right-hander with a below-average fastball, Romo had little shot to be a top draft pick. The Giants took him in the 28th round of the 2005 draft and three years later he forced his way to the big leagues. Four years after that, he stunned Miguel Cabrera with the final pitch of the second title run. Only two of the first 23 players the Giants took that year reached the big leagues, but five players taken in the 27th round or later did, including current first base coach Antoan Richardson (35th). 

Jonathan Sanchez: Do the Giants win their first title without the left-hander they took in the 27th round out of Ohio Dominican University in 2004? Sanchez was the most valuable player in that Giants draft class. The one who played the most big-league games -- Kevin Frandsen -- was a 12th-round pick. 

Brian Wilson: Years before the bushy beard and Taco Bell commercials, he was a hard-throwing right-hander taken in the 24th round out of LSU. Wilson was drafted in 2003 and made it to the big leagues three years later. 

Travis Ishikawa: He'll never have to buy another drink in San Francisco, but 18 years ago, he was a high schooler from Washington taken 612 picks after the Giants called Matt Cain's name. 

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Mauricio Dubon: Many of the best high school players will forego the draft and attend college, getting an education and trying again in three years. Some will go the junior college route for a season or two. But there are always prep stars who are eager to start chasing that dream no matter the cost, and Dubon was the type of player who won't exist in the 2020 draft. Taken in the 26th round in 2013, he signed with the Red Sox and started the slow journey through the minors, finally achieving a goal that led him to move from Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. 

Jaylin Davis: The eye-popping power didn't really come until 2019, when he hit 35 minor league homers across two organizations. Davis hit just 10 total homers at Appalachian State, a school in basketball-crazed North Carolina, but he got better and better after being taken in the 24th round by the Twins in 2015. If the season started tomorrow, he could be in the big league outfield. 

Dereck Rodriguez: Like Yastrzemski, he has the Hall-of-Fame pedigree. But he would have been right on the edge of the draft in 2020. Rodriguez was a sixth-rounder in 2011. Teams are allowed to sign undrafted players for $20,000 and perhaps players from well-off families will take that path, but it's still a rough consolation prize when you were considered a high-round prospect. 

Austin Slater: He was a top prospect in Florida before breaking his ankle while playing frisbee. Slater went to Stanford and got taken in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. Four of the players the Giants took ahead of him have reached the big leagues, but Slater currently leads the class in games played and WAR. 

Tyler Rogers: If the Giants had taken the field as planned in March, there's a decent chance Rogers would have been Gabe Kapler's closer. Seven years ago he was a 10th-round pick out of Austin Peay. Rogers repeatedly had to prove scouts and executives wrong just to get a shot at the big leagues. It would have been even tougher under the current system. 

Steven Duggar: The 2020 version of Steven Duggar is going to be a fascinating case. He was taken in the sixth round in 2016, but with so little breathing room, perhaps teams will prioritize guys like Duggar, who have very defined skills -- defense, speed -- that you know will get them to the big leagues. Perhaps Duggar would sneak into a five-round draft. 

Matt Duffy: One of the best draft-and-develop success stories in franchise history, Duffy was an 18th-round pick in 2012. He has more at-bats than the rest of that Giants draft class combined. 

Kelby Tomlinson: The utility infielder was a 12th round pick in 2011 and ended up playing more games for the Giants than anyone in that class other than first-rounder Joe Panik. He's with the Rockies now, by the way. 

[RELATED: Looking back at Giants' top five prospects after 2011 season]

Brett Bochy: A cool thing in the draft every year is seeing the sons of former big leaguers get selected, and a lot of them make it to the big leagues. Bruce Bochy counts Brett's first appearance as one of the highlights of a career that'll put him in the Hall of Fame. Brett was taken in the 20th round in 2010. 

Chris Heston: His no-hitter in New York was the best moment of the 2015 season, but Heston was once a 12th-round pick out of East Carolina. His draft class is a good example of what's being lost. Jake Dunning (33rd round) and Ryan Lollis (37th) also reached the big leagues with the Giants.

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