This is the first time in nearly a decade that I haven’t spent this week covering the draft.  I’d spend the entire time sitting with former SFDugout co-writer Chris Martinez (who now writes for and and occasionally others listening to names, and then furiously googling and calling and getting every scrap of information possible about every player, from #1 to #50.

It was thankless, but god, it was fun.  Chris and I would have long laughs at the crazy stuff that only a hardcore baseball fan or journalist would get.  I don’t think either of us would have stopped laughing yet about a player from the Academy of Art getting drafted today.

So, here’s my formerly-semi-professional thoughts on the draft, and in particular first rounder Chris Stratton:

• Stratton is a very good pitcher.  He has a good compliment of pitches, and a very real out pitch.  He still has things he can improve upon, but can be a star.

• The Giants got good value in a topsy-turvy draft.  Mock drafts have limited reliability, but it should be noted that Stratton was expected to be drafted in the 12-15 range in most mocks I saw, and only one saw him drop down to the Giants range: it had the Giants drafting him.

• I do not think that the Giants drafted seven of their first eight draftees as pitchers as a response to the lack of pitching prospects in the system.

• I do think the Giants avoided high school players partially because of the new draft rules, and partially because they more often turn out like Wendell Fairley than Madison Bumgarner.

• I haven’t seen anyone note that while the team only took ‘college’ pitchers, they skewed younger/less experienced with position players (1 high schooler, two JC players and one college sophomore out of eight position players taken).

• Signability is a big deal with the new draft rules, so it should be noted that the team’s only high school draftee so far, 8th round outfielder Shilo McCall, has already proclaimed that he will sign.

• Later round players to note: McCall is not a center fielder for long, but I like the kid’s talent.  Steven Okert (4th) has a good chance to be a rare left-handed closer if he can overcome a certain manager’s prejudices.  Stephen Johnson (6th round) is a diamond in the rough if the Giants can smooth him out.

• Martin Agosta’s Twitter profile simply reads “11/1/10 SFWC!”  I like this kid already.

• God, this makes me feel old, looking at the birthdates of these kids.

I don’t get too wild over the draft, even as someone who pays more attention to it than most.  But I love the minors, and I love knowing the stories of these kids, even if they won’t make the majors.

If you get a chance, follow some of these kids.  The minors are fun.  And we are lucky (and perhaps not for long) to have a minor league club so close to us in the Bay Area in San Jose.

This was the game in the 1960's...

Start-O-Matic…the next generation (five generations ago) of baseball cards.

Oh, and if you don’t get the Stratt-O-Matic nickname…you’re probably not as old as I am.  But Strat-O-Matic was the precursor to today’s fantasy baseball, and the early versions are eerily similar to the gameplay of Dungeons & Dragons.  The difference between jocks and nerds is a lot smaller than many people think.

But that nickname has to stick, especially if he becomes a consistent horse like Matt Cain.