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Giants gamble on hitters to end Draft

Giants gamble on hitters to end Draft

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' three-day scavenger hunt for baseball prospects ended Thursday with the conclusion of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Now the tough part: getting them all signed.

With no compensation picks, San Francisco selected a player in each round of the 50-round selection process, 24 pitchers juxtaposed with 26 position players. Just 10 of the Giants' Draftees have only high school experience to rely on, though that looks like plenty for the organization's top pick.

Taken sixth overall Tuesday, Zack Wheeler, 19, impressed the organization with his athleticism and maturity. The product of East Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., was the second prep pitcher taken in the first round by the Giants in the last three years.

San Francisco began its roll on hitters by picking high school catcher Thomas Joseph and college senior Chris Dominguez (Louisville) and junior Brandon Belt (Texas) within the first five rounds.

There is certainly a disparity in available talent between the earliest and latest rounds in baseball's style of drafting, but those players taken Thursday yield the same concern: Are they signable?

On the third and final day of the Draft, San Francisco selected 20 more players in Rounds 31-50.

"We still believe that there's quality out there," said Bobby Evans, the Giants' vice president of baseball operations, of the organization's approach to the final day. "You have to find quality that's willing to sign even though they've been taken later in the Draft."

Giants -- Top five selections
Pick
POS
Name
School
6RHPZachary WheelerEast Paulding HS
55CThomas JosephHorizon HS
863BChristopher DominguezU Louisville
117RHPJason StoffelU Arizona
1471BBrandon BeltU Texas Austin
Complete Giants Draft results >

One 2009 selection the Giants must have some confidence in was 31st-round pick Diego Seastrunk.

Seastrunk made 61 starts at third base for Rice in 2008 before volunteering to move behind the plate for his junior season in 2009. According to MLB.com's Draft reports, if his glove catches up with his bat, he can develop into an everyday catcher in the big leagues.

Though he's regarded as a "work in progress" behind the plate, the switch-hitter is anything but in the batter's box. After hitting .331 during his freshman and sophomore campaigns, however, Seastrunk batted .288 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs in 61 games last season.

If a move off the catching position lightens the load on Seastrunk, the Giants do have 2008 first-round pick Buster Posey pegged as their catcher of the future.

The question remains: Will Seastrunk follow the route of other Draftees, the path Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand took when he was breaking into the bigs? The New York Mets picked Rowand, then a high school senior, in the 1995 Draft's 40th round. Rowand opted to play three seasons at collegiate powerhouse Cal State-Fullerton and upped his stock. The Chicago White Sox selected Rowand with the 35th overall pick in the 1998 Draft.

Seastrunk was one of 12 position players selected by the Giants on Thursday.

Another late-round selection of note: In the 48th round, the Giants drafted a second player from tiny Western Oklahoma State College, selecting Aruban outfielder Randolph Oduber one day after picking pitcher Jamaine Cotton, who hails from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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