After the Draft, a New World for Rookies by Yeshayah Goldfarb
Yeshayah Goldfarb is the San Francisco Giants’ director of minor league operations and quantitative analysis.
You might be wondering what happens to our draft picks once the draft is over. How do we begin developing them into players who might help us win another World Series?
It starts when a draft pick agrees to financial terms and we send him to our baseball complex in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a physical and a series of orientation sessions. There’s a lot to absorb. Professional baseball is a sub-culture with its own customs, expectations, responsibilities and rules. We give all new players a handbook that covers everything from where each of our minor league teams is located to curfew regulations to how to wear the uniform and how much facial hair is acceptable.
Soon after they clear the team physical, they are assigned to either the Arizona League Giants in Scottsdale or the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon. That’s when the real work starts – for them and for us.
We need to learn the players’ strengths, sharpen those strengths, teach new skills, build confidence, eliminate distractions, develop individual conditioning plans, evaluate performance, analyze results/statistics and shape character.
For position players, one of the first challenges is to adjust to wood bats. But that’s just the beginning. They now play every day with very few days off usually far away from home — with unfamiliar teammates and coaches, new signs, new bunt plays, more fans, autograph seekers, community outreach events, and the constant fear that they will be released.
Our manager in Salem-Keizer, Tom Trebelhorn, is the perfect manager for rookies. He’s a former big-league manager (with the Cubs and Brewers) who has a wealth of baseball knowledge but is still a kid at heart. Derin McMains is our rookie ball manager in Arizona and learned the job from Treb. They’re both really encouraging and inspirational, which helps build the players’ confidence and camaraderie right from the start.
We also begin right away developing their leadership skills. Every two weeks throughout the summer (and every regular season) the minor league coaching staff leads a discussion (guided by a DVD presentation and accompanying book) about a particular value or principle, such as humility, discipline, responsibility and character. We want Giants players to be good men and good teammates as well as good athletes.
While the players are in Arizona and Oregon, the front office here in San Francisco keeps close tabs on all of them. Everyone from general manager Brian Sabean on down receives a detailed, daily report about every player in every game. We capture statistics in deep detail to use as tools for both teaching and evaluation.
We know it’s a big leap from amateur baseball to the professional level. Some will experience failure for the first time. We assure them that our coaches and support staff — with many years of major league and minor league experience – are 100 percent committed to helping them become the best players they can be.
Still, there will be times when they doubt themselves. I hope when that happens they’ll remember the words at the end of Brian’s letter to them after the draft.
“We look forward to watching your ascent to the Major Leagues as a San Francisco Giant,’’ he wrote, “possibly even as a member of our next World Series Championship team.’’
We’re really proud of our selections in the 2012 draft. They’re already off to a great start.
Thanks for reading. And try to get out to one of our minor-league parks and watch these guys. You’ll have bragging rights later on: You always knew that raw outfielder with the loopy swing would be a star.