2011 MLB Draft: Giants Take Joe Panik

NCAA St Johns Virginia Baseball

Joe Panik has some pretty big shoes to fill now that he's the Giants 2011 MLB first-round draft pick.

After all, the last few folks that the Giants have taken are pretty decent.

That is, if you consider Tim Lincecum (2006), Madison Bumgarner (2007), Buster Posey (2008), Zack Wheeler (2009) and Gary Brown (2010) decent. Which you should.

Anyway, back to Panik, who's a shortstop out of St. John's, and was taken by the Giants with the 29th overall pick. Which is something that probably sounds familiar, if you remember a fella by the name of Rich Aurilla.

Aurilla, drafted by the Rangers in 1992, broke into the bigs with San Francisco in 1995 and spent nine years by the bay before returning for a three-year stint to close out his career. He's obviously quite popular with Giants' fans, and Panik knows he has some pretty big historical shoes to fill.

"It's kind of following in his footsteps," Panik said, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I hope some day I get up to San Francisco and leave my mark like he did."

"He's one of the legends."

Well, if you're to believe the critics, Panik's might not even have a shot at becoming the type of player Aurilla was.

John Manual of Baseball America referred to Panik as the "first truly off-the-board pick of the night" (29th, no less, so it took a while!) while also calling Panik a "more polished" version of Freddy Sanchez.

The BA Twitter feed mentioned his "short, compact swing" and says that Panik, who "profiles [as a] bat-first second baseman," "evokes Jed Lowrie comps."

Keith Law of ESPN wasn't quite as kind -- when a reader asked Law if Panik was "a reach," Law replied, "Yes. Utility infielder."

Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles has a more even-tempered take, writing that he "trusts the Giants." Which seems pretty fair, considering that Brian Sabean and his staff -- for as much as folks may want to say about veteran deals and a roster that can't hit -- has KILLED in the draft lately.

Of course, it's entirely possible that the scouting department's just been watching too many clips of Miguel Tejada trying to field the shortstop position and got desperate.

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