Still, the Giants have an excellent chance to add a performer with the skill approaching that of Lincecum, their exciting right-hander, in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. San Francisco hasn't had a pick this high since it took right-hander Jason Grilli fourth overall in 1997.
In about 50 words
The Giants hope to sustain the momentum they established in 2006, when their Draft class included not only Lincecum, but also current Major League infielders Emmanuel Burriss and Brian Bocock. The trend continued last year, when they had six of the top 51 selections. The perceived depth of talent likely to be available in the first round boosts San Francisco's optimism about securing another blue-chip prospect.
John Barr, the Giants' special assistant to the general manager who's in charge of scouting, is both certain and unsure about the club's status with its first-round pick. Citing the lack of a consensus over the likely top draftees, Barr said, "the four teams in front of us don't know who they're going to get." Hence, neither does San Francisco. On the other hand, Barr believes that whoever's available to San Francisco will be attractive.
"I think we're going to end up with a really good player," he said, noting that the Giants have "eight or nine guys in the mix" who they're considering at No. 5.Barr and other Giants scouting officials have strove for thoroughness. Not only have they watched prospects perform in person and on videotapes, but they've also interviewed many personally and have even consulted some psychological profiles.
"There are a lot of steps leading up to this selection," Barr said.First-round buzz
Given San Francisco's lack of thump at the Major League level at the infield corners, fans have clamored for the Giants to select a first or third baseman, such as Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez, South Carolina's Justin Smoak or Arizona State's Brett Wallace.
The Giants have tried to replenish their farm system with the last two drafts, although the bulk of their more attractive prospects remain in the lower Minors. Third base could be an area of need, especially if 17-year-old prospect Angel Villalona settles at first base instead of third. The outfield could use some restocking. And catching remains a priority, even though they drafted Jackson Williams 43rd overall last year. The presence of Bocock and Burriss, and a pair of 2007 draftees, Charlie Culberson and Nick Noonan, minimizes the urgency to grab middle infielders. And although pitching is an eternal concern for every club, the Giants are rich in mound prospects, having taken Madison Baumgarner and Tim Alderson in last year's first round. Trend watch
As indicated above, history indicates that the Giants will concentrate on pitching in the Draft. This has been general manager Brian Sabean's modus operandi. But with so many positional needs, they may have to shift their emphasis. As for whether they'll look more at collegians or high schoolers, there's no telling. Last year, five of their top six picks were high school seniors, but all but one of their remaining selections were college players. Recent top picks
Baumgarner (2007) is pitching at low Class A Augusta. Lincecum ('06) helps anchor San Francisco's starting rotation. Outfielder Ben Copeland (fourth round, '05) is with Double-A Connecticut. Rising fast
Left-hander Ben Snyder, drafted in the fourth round out of Ball State University in '06, is 4-0 with an 0.85 ERA for high Class A San Jose. This continues a pattern of success for Snyder, who was 4-1 in '06 at rookie-level Salem-Keizer and 16-5 last year at Augusta. Cinderella story
Right-hander Adam Cowart, a 35th-round draftee in '06, pitched himself onto the radar by finishing 24-8 with a 1.96 ERA in his first two Minor League seasons. He's currently 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA at Connecticut. In The Show
Lincecum (4-1, 1.49 ERA) has established himself as one of the top young pitchers in the Majors. Bocock has started 26 games at shortstop and is hitting .143. Burriss lifted his average to .237 in Thursday's series finale at Pittsburgh while collecting his first Major League RBI.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.