Down on the Farm: When Giants Have Top-five Draft Pick, They Find Stars

The last time the Giants owned a top-five pick in the MLB Draft, they called the name Gerald Dempsey "Buster" Posey. Yeah, that turned out pretty well. 

All in all, the Giants have only owned four top-five draft picks. Through Aug. 10, the Giants (46-70) are in place for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. 

When San Francisco's front office has been put in that position, they have pounced at the chance to find a star and place the team in the right direction. Starting with Will Clark, take a look back at the Giants' impressive history of success with a top-five draft pick. 

Will Clark, 1985, No. 2 overall

After an abysmal 1984 season, the Giants brought a new thrill to San Francisco with the second pick in the 1985 MLB Draft. 

As a junior at Mississippi State, his last year as a Bulldog, Will Clark dominated his college competition. He hit .420 with 25 home runs in 65 games played. Clark went on won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top college player. 

The start to his professional career was just as promising too. Clark played another 65 games at Advanced Single-A in Fresno and slashed .309/.558/.512 with 10 more home runs in '85. In less than a year after the Giants drafted him, the boisterous sweet-swinging lefty was in the bigs. 

Clark made his major league debut on April 8, 1986 at 22 years old against some 39-year-old named Nolan Ryan. Never mind that Ryan already had five no-hitters to his name, The Thrill couldn't care less. In his first at-bat, he took Ryan deep to dead center field. He went on to bat .287 with 11 home runs as a rookie. 

Over eight years with the Giants, Clark cranked out 176 home runs and 1278 hits with his .299/.373/.499 slash line. As a Giant, he was a five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger award winner and won the 1991 National League Gold Glove at first base. 

The Giants took Clark four picks before Barry Bonds went to the Pirates, but at the time, you couldn't fault San Francisco for taking the first baseman. And years later, there still shouldn't be any second guessing despite all that Bonds did. 

Matt Williams, 1986, No. 3 overall

Matt Williams' career was almost literally twice as good as the first two picks of the 1986 MLB Draft. Williams accumulated a 46.4 career bWAR over 17 years. In comparison, the first two picks of the draft combined for 47.7 career bWAR.

While the Giants painfully lost 100 games for the first time in franchise history in 1985, the team's worst season ever brought them a future star in Williams. 

Coming out of UNLV, Williams, like Clark, crushed 25 balls over the fence his final college season as a junior. But unlike the Giants' top pick from a year before, Williams didn't burst onto the scene right away. Though Williams made his major league debut in 1987, he truly became an everyday player for a full season in 1990 at 24 years old and was now a third baseman, no longer a shortstop. The wait was easily worth it. 

In his first season of seeing his name in the lineup every game, Williams was named an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger award as he knocked 33 home runs and led the league with 122 RBI. From that 1990 season through his final year with the Giants in 1996, Williams averaged 30 home runs and 92 RBI. 

As a Giant, Williams totaled 1092 hits and 247 home runs over 10 years. He was a four-time All-Star in San Francisco, won three Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves. 

The Giants' picks of Clark and Williams in back-to-back years went about as perfect as the team could have planned for. 

Jason Grilli, 1997, No. 4 overall

The Giants drafted Grilli as a junior out of Seton Hall University, but he was gone just two years later. The now journeyman never did make it to the majors with the Giants and was traded to the Marlins for Livan Hernandez on July 25, 1999. 

Before the trade, Baseball America twice saw Grilli as a Top 100 prospect for the Giants. The right-hander was ranked as the No. 54 prospect in the game by Baseball America going into the 1998 season. He moved up 10 spots to No. 44 prior to the 1999 season. 

Grilli is now in his 15th season and pitching for his ninth different team. He was named an All-Star as a reliever with the Pirates in 2013. 

Buster Posey, 2008, No. 5 overall

If it weren't for a 10-year minimum rule, Posey, in his eighth full season with the Giants, would already be a Hall of Famer.  

Let's look at his list of Cooperstown accomplishments he's already achieved at 30 years old. Posey is a three-time World Series champion, a NL MVP and Rookie of the Year, he's played in five All-Star Games, won three Silver Slugger awards, and took home his first Gold Glove last season. In other words, Posey is already on his way to etching his name among the greatest catchers of all-time. 

Remembering the 2008 MLB Draft, which was thought to be a stacked class at the time, Posey is far and above the best player. The four players selected ahead of him have combined for a 25 bWAR. By himself, Posey has a 37.5 bWAR. He is 12.5 wins better than the four together, and that includes All-Star Eric Hosmer. 

Posey is the latest in a line of Giants top five picks in which the franchise comes out on top. Grilli is nowhere near the player Clark, Williams or Posey turned into, yet even he became an All-Star down the line like the three others. 

The Giants expected to compete for a World Series this season. Instead, they're at the bottom of baseball, but maybe that means another future San Francisco star awaits them next June. 

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