Giants have made most of Draft in all rounds

From Clarks -- Will and Jack -- to Bonds, big names dot team's top selections

Giants have made most of Draft in all rounds

SAN FRANCISCO -- Had the First-Year Player Draft never materialized, that would have been just fine with the Giants.

Their astute cadre of scouts and talent evaluators, including Alex Pompez, Ed Montague, George Genovese and Carl Hubbell, consistently beat rival teams to obtain the best talent available.

Though the Dodgers pioneered the integration of blacks in professional baseball, the Giants kept up with them by signing the likes of Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, Willie McCovey and Bobby Bonds. They cornered the Latin American market by acquiring Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and the Alou brothers, among numerous others. They even secured the services of left-hander Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese-born big leaguer, for a little more than a year.

The Giants had an eye for more than just minorities. Gaylord Perry, Tom Haller, Dick Dietz and Jim Davenport were among the future caucasian All-Stars they signed before the Draft's inception in 1965.

In the 1979 book "SF Giants: An Oral History," former manager Bill Rigney said of the Draft, "It's a little fairer way, but then, no one said you were supposed to be fair. You were supposed to put the best club on the field that you possibly could, the devil with your neighbor."

More recently, the Giants have capitalized on the Draft the way they once seized upon amateur free agents. Three consecutive first-round picks -- Tim Lincecum (2006), Madison Bumgarner (2007) and Buster Posey (2008) -- combined to help San Francisco win World Series in 2010 and 2012.

The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 3 p.m. PT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 4 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 9:30 a.m. PT on June 6.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

The following list, naming MLB.com's choices of the Giants' best picks from the top 15 rounds of the Draft era, might lack quality at some spots. But it isn't wanting for variety.

Round 1: Will Clark, 1985
The Giants were indisputably one of the worst teams in the Major Leagues at the time they selected Clark. He changed that in a hurry with his infectious intensity and sheer skill. A sub-.500 club in each of the three years before Clark arrived, the Giants had winning records in his first five years with the team, capturing the National League West title in 1987 and reaching the World Series in 1989.

A strong argument could be made in favor of naming Posey or Lincecum as the Giants' best first-round choice ever. At his current rate of achievement, Posey may ultimately eclipse Clark. Through Monday, Posey's 162-game average (.304 batting average, .855 OPS, 22 homers, 76 runs, 92 RBIs) virtually equals what Clark averaged with the Giants in his first six years (.302, .885 OPS, 24 homers, 89 runs, 94 RBIs). But Posey still has to reach that six-year mark. Lincecum's awards and deeds, like Posey's, are difficult to ignore. But when doubt clouds a comparative evaluation -- in most cases -- take an everyday player over a pitcher.

Round 2: Barry Bonds, 1982
No other possible choice remotely exists. The Giants reportedly could have signed Bonds, then known as Bobby Bonds' son, had they sweetened their bonus offer by $65,000. The eventual all-time home run leader spurned San Francisco for Arizona State University and became the Pirates' top pick in 1985 before eventually making it to the Giants in free agency eight years later.

Round 3: Mike Benjamin, 1987
Obviously, this historically hasn't been a great round for the Giants. Benjamin, a competent reserve infielder, never was much of a hitter, except for a three-game stretch in 1995 when he rapped 14 hits. That included a six-hit effort on June 14, 1995, at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Round 4: Steve Busby, 1967
Busby, who chose collegiate ball at the University of Southern California over the Giants, was briefly considered among the American League's elite pitchers when he turned pro with Kansas City. He went 56-41 from 1973-75, including a 22-win season in 1974, before arm problems curtailed his career.

Round 5: Brandon Belt, 2009
Despite being in the Majors for barely more than three seasons, Belt has displayed enough promise to merit inclusion on this list. He was the Giants' primary first baseman when they won the 2012 World Series and he led the team with nine homers before a fractured left thumb sidelined him this year.

Round 6: Joe Nathan, 1995
A six-time All-Star, Nathan will merit serious Hall of Fame consideration eventually. Unfortunately for the Giants, they dealt him to Minnesota in the now-infamous A.J. Pierzynski trade.

Round 7: Mike Aldrete, 1983
Aldrete was a handy performer for the Giants, particularly in 1987 when he hit .325 and played first base as well as the outfield to help San Francisco win its first NL West title in 16 years.

Round 8: Davey Lopes, 1967
How ironic that one of the Giants' primary antagonists during the 1970s in their rivalry with the Dodgers was originally a San Francisco draftee. Surprisingly, Lopes hit just .226 lifetime against the Giants. But he stole 46 bases in 55 tries and scored 93 runs in 166 career games against them.

Round 9: Keith Foulke, 1994
The Giants knew that Foulke would develop into an All-Star-caliber reliever. But they needed to win now in 1997, so they included him in the "White Flag" trade with the White Sox. Foulke had seasons of more than 40 saves with the White Sox and A's and recorded the final out for the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series.

Round 10: Pete Incaviglia, 1982
Rather than sign out of high school with the Giants, Incaviglia attended Oklahoma State University and was drafted by the Expos in the first round in 1985. Incaviglia went straight to the Majors and proceeded to hit 206 home runs, mostly with the Rangers and Phillies.

Round 11: Chili Davis, 1977
One of the last capable outfielders drafted and developed by the Giants, the switch-hitting Davis averaged .267 with 101 homers, 418 RBIs and 95 stolen bases in slightly more than six years with San Francisco before bolting for the Angels in free agency. The three-time All-Star won World Series rings with the Twins and Yankees.

Round 12: Kevin Frandsen, 2004
Since the Giants sold him in 2010 to the Red Sox, with whom he never played a regular-season game, Frandsen has turned himself into a decent utility man, thriving in 2012-13 with the Phillies and now with the Nationals.

Round 13: Jack Clark, 1973
It's impossible to recall Clark's ever striking out a checked swing. The man took full, spirited hacks with every plate appearance, meriting his nickname of "Jack the Ripper." Clark played for five teams and hit 26 homers or more in a season for each. He made four All-Star teams and finished among the top 20 in Most Valuable Player balloting six times.

Round 14: Lenn Sakata, 1972
Two years after Sakata declined to sign with the Giants, he spurned the Padres when they drafted him. Sakata knew what he was doing, as the Brewers picked him 10th overall in 1975. He spent 11 seasons as a utility man in the Majors and has come full circle as a manager for the Giants' Class A Advanced San Jose affiliate.

Round 15: Bill Mueller, 1993
Drafted as a shortstop, Mueller stuck with the Giants as a third baseman and hastened their renaissance that included NL West titles in 1997 and 2000. Mueller retired with a .291 batting average in 11 seasons and won the 2003 AL batting title with a .326 average for Boston.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.