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Giants return to first round of the draft

Giants look to land top talent with 10th pick

SAN FRANCISCO -- Every draft has its moments of tension and intrigue, but for the Giants, the 2006 version starting June 6 will be more pressure-filled than it has been for years.

San Francisco gets the 10th pick in the first round, and while it rekindles thoughts of the 1985 and 1986 selections -- Will Clark (second overall) and Matt Williams (third) -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean remains in a wait-and-see mode.

"We're comfortable we'll get a real good pick, with talent first, and not worry about signability," said Sabean. "There are a lot of pitching choices, but it starts with the first pick, which sets in motion what the other teams will do."

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Positions players probably won't be on the Giants' initial agenda.

"Quite frankly, there doesn't seem to be as many impact players available as pitchers," said Sabean.

The club has always been high on collegiate arms, the exception being Tennessee high school product Matt Cain in 2002 -- and what an exceptional pick that turned out to be.

The three previous choices were pitchers Brad Hennessey in 2001, Boof Bonser in 2000 and Kurt Ainsworth in 1999, with the Giants not having a first-round selection the past two seasons.

Three standout pitchers who could be available for the Giants at No. 10 include right-hander Daniel Bard from the University of North Carolina, right-hander Greg Reynolds of Stanford and high school right-hander Kyle Drabek (son of Doug) of The Woodlands, in Texas.

Bard showed well in the Cape Cod competition, but the Giants have also been high on Drabek.

What direction Sabean decides to go depends on who the Kansas City Royals select with the initial choice, followed by the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

"Kansas City has been looking at one of three pitchers and everybody else has been waiting," said Sabean. "A position player may or may not be favorable to us at that pick. But it remains to be seen."

Last season, the Giants didn't have a selection until the fourth round, and they chose outfielder Ben Copeland from the University of Pittsburgh. This season at Class A Augusta, Copeland is batting .262 with 13 RBIs in 47 games.

The Giants have the 33rd pick overall, given as compensation for losing lefty reliever Scott Eyre to the Chicago Cubs. San Francisco's second-round choice went to St. Louis for the acquisition of pitcher Matt Morris.

The Giants also have the 89th pick in the third round, pick No. 116 in the fourth round and the 146th selection in the fifth.

It's estimated that once Barry Bonds leaves the Giants -- he's owed $18 million this season, the final year of a $90 million deal -- the club will have more financial flexibility and will perhaps invest more heavily into the draft.

How the team will fare on the international front is difficult to foresee.

"It's a different ball of wax -- it's a high-level game," said Sabean, noting million-dollar players can be in the middle of the pack.

Here's a look at the Giants' first pick in recent drafts:

2003: RHP David Aarsdma, pick No. 22
Aardsma, who pitched for College World Series champion Rice University, couldn't cut it in the Giants system and was traded to the Chicago Cubs with starter Jerome Williams for reliever LaTroy Hawkins last season. Aardsma was called up on Monday from Iowa of the Pacific Coast League.

2002: RHP Matt Cain, pick No. 25
Cain's maturity and great arm moved him quickly through the Minor Leagues, and he was in Triple-A Fresno in 2005, then jumped to the Giants later that season and performed well. His second go-round was rough at the onset, but he rediscovered his rhythm by relaxing and is back to his fireballing self in recent outings.

2001: RHP Brad Hennessey, pick No. 21
Hennessey's career was short-circuited in 2002 due to surgery to remove a benign growth on his upper back, but he broke through with a strong rookie season in 2004 with the Giants in seven starts. He held steady last year, but he has been sent to the bullpen this season.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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