San Francisco Giants Surprise Somewhat By Drafting RHP Phil Bickford

All the mock drafts I viewed earlier today had the Giants selecting high school right-hander Mike Nikorak, because the Giants were said to like his pitching frame (6’5″, 205 lbs).  Instead, the Giants took junior college right-hander Phil Bickford, who has exactly the same listed measurements as Nikorak.

Bickford was drafted 10th overall in 2013 by the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Jays were unable to sign him at the price they were willing to pay.  Presumably, the Giants are convinced they can sign Bickford this time around.  With Bickford having fallen eight slots in the draft and the capped slotting system being what it is, it’s hard to imagine Bickford getting more than what the Jays offered him two years ago. We’ll have to see if the Giants select players above grade in later rounds in order free up money to sign Bickford, something the Giants have pointedly not done much of in prior draft years.

Bickford pitched extremely well for Cal State Fullerton and then in the Cape Cod League in 2014, so well in fact that he dropped out and enrolled in the JC College of Southern Nevada so that he could be eligible for this year’s draft.  The fact that he was still around with the 18th overall pick indicates that his junior college performance this season didn’t impress the scouts as might have been hoped. In fact, as of April 19, 2015, he had a 1.60 ERA with 117 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 62 innings pitched [he finished the season with a 1.45 ERA and 166 Ks and only 21 BBs in 86.2 IP — I couldn’t find CSN’s stats page when I first published this post], so the concern must be the level of competition he faced, or the fact that he recently tested positive for marijuana.

However, the Giants have experience with dope-smoking pitchers — well I remember the chants of “Let Timmy Smoke!” at the 2010 World Series Celebration and Parade.  Anyway, the Giants obviously weren’t too concerned about the positive test. In fact, as I write this post, Mike Nikorak has not been selected 25 picks into the 2015 Draft.  It’s quite possible the Giants figured that Nikorak might still be around to select with the 31st overall pick, while Bickford would be selected by someone else by then.  We shall have to wait and see…

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