By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
August 31, 2009
Doug Mapson describes the draft as filling out a major league team five years from now. He should know. The self-made baseball man whose longtime influences, the late scouts and former players, Gene Handley and Spider Jorgensen, still guide his insights, is now in his 29th year in professional baseball.
Baseball Beginnings caught up with Mapson to talk about San Francisco’s first five picks of the 2009 draft. The Giants felt good about the haul; they feel better getting all five players signed.
Baseball Beginnings: You guys had the 6th overall pick and took right-hander Zack Wheeler (East Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga.). Can you describe Wheeler?
Mapson: We thought he was a premier, classic right-handed power pitcher along the lines of what Matt Cain was when he came out of high school. We saw a lot of similarities in the two kids. The delivery is sound, long arms, ball explodes out of his hand, good breaking ball and athleticism. Those were all the things we liked about Matt Cain. We were extremely pleased that Wheeler got to us.
Baseball Beginnings: Tell me about your second round pick, catcher Tommy Joseph from Horizon HS in Scottsdale, AZ.
Mapson: Tommy Joseph is a catcher with a plus arm. He is consistently 1.85 to 1.95 to second base. What we like most about Tommy Joseph is he has easy, easy huge right-handed power.
Baseball Beginnings: This is where it gets interesting. The Giants went for third baseman Chris Dominguez, who slipped to the third round.
Mapson: Chris Dominguez. We’ve all seen him since high school. He’s had periods of time where he struggled and he’s been criticized for things he doesn’t do well, mainly for not making consistent contact. But if you take his stats the last two years at the University of Louisville, he cut down his strikeout rate to a much more manageable thing. He hit more than 20 home runs each year. I don’t think you’d find a better arm in the draft at any position. He can flat throw with anybody who has ever played the game. For a guy who is 6-5, he stole 17 bases so there is some athleticism to go with the arm strength and power. We thought that set him apart from a lot of guys. He’s not a big slug. He’s not a one-dimensional guy. He’s athletic enough to learn to play more than one position. The power is huge, the arm strength is huge and he’s a very, very good athlete. When we watched the way he played the game, talked to his teammates and some of his coaches this year, watched the way the fans reacted to him this year, it was a nice package. We were thrilled he fell to us.
Baseball Beginnings: I was surprised to see he fell to 86th overall.
Mapson: Everybody said he strikes out too much, but over the last few years, the strikeouts fell drastically. If you eliminate that aspect, you have a guy with a tremendous slugging percentage, a good on-base percentage, hits a lot of home runs and steals a bunch of bases with a cannon for an arm and who is a leader. There’s a lot to like about that player.
Baseball Beginnings: In terms of a guy who got bonked by a lot of people this spring, that was RHP Jason Stoffel, your fourth round pick. I saw Stoffel at UCLA for an eight-pitch look hit 94 four times without a breaking ball. I saw a Troy Percival-type body, a do-it yourself closer kit where if you give the guy a breaking ball, he can be fast track bullpen help.
Mapson: That pretty much sums it up. He has a breaking ball and a change or a split he can work on. You kind of had to scout him off of 2008 because there were times when he wasn’t pitching every day in 2009 and it was difficult to get a beat on him at his best.
The simplest way to put it is that the two guys who were setting up for him in 2008, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, have both been in the big leagues already. He’s an extremely bright kid. He wasn’t in a position in 2009 to be seen in his best light, but we utilized our scouting from the last couple of years. We all looked at our notes, thought about where he might be, and we think he can be a very fast track kind of guy. Going into the year, we thought he was going to be a first round guy.
Baseball Beginnings: Am I ok putting Percival on him?
Mapson: Last Fall, he was a really hard-charging guy onto the mound. You didn’t want to be the hitter because he had the ability to scare you. They slowed him down a little bit to create a little but of tempo and that might not be him. We don’t know, that remains to be seen. We understood that the whole thing didn’t mesh for him this year, so we were tickled he got to us.
Baseball Beginnings: What can you tell us about Brandon Belt, the Giants’ 5th round pick and 147th overall, who led the University of Texas in the College World Series.
Mapson: We saw him and liked him in the summer. He was a high profile pitcher in high school.
Baseball Beginnings: Belt played at Hudson High School in Lufkin, Texas. The Red Sox drafted him in the 11th round out of high school.
Mapson: He didn’t sign and went to San Jacinto JC in Texas for a year. When he got there they decided to let him hit. I think he’s an emerging young hitter. He’s had pretty good success at Texas so far. He does a lot of things you like. We saw him with some power to all fields even though he doesn’t have a tremendous number of home runs (eight). You have to give him credit in college ball for getting the job done. I was kind of leading the pack on this one, to be honest. I think he’s an emerging young hitter. It’s another situation, where, don’t look at what you don’t like about him. Here’s a guy who is 6-5, 220, who is a good athlete and a good fielder, has a good arm, he’s just learning to hit and he’s had moderate success. I think all the upside is in front of this guy. He’s a good example of the kind of scouting we talked about earlier, where you say, ‘don’t look at a guy and pick him apart so much that you miss what he can do.’ He might be able to contribute a few years down the line. Don’t forget, we’ve got instructors we pay a lot of money to in order to help these young hitters make the adjustments. We think the guy (Belt) has a big upside. We’ll see what kind of offensive player he becomes, but anyone who thinks they can solve hitting in just a few years of amateur ball is sorely mistaken.