After spending his entire playing career in New England, Chris Shaw will have to get used to new digs—and warmer weather—in the Golden State.
On Monday evening, the San Francisco Giants selected the 21-year-old Boston College outfielder with the 31st overall pick in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) June 9, 2015
Shaw, a two-time All-ACC selection, is the third highest BC player taken in the MLB Draft, trailing only Tony Sanchez (fourth overall, 2009) and Chris Lambert (19th overall, 2004). He is also the second-highest pick from the ACC in this draft, trailing only Florida State outfielder DJ Stewart, who the Baltimore Orioles selected with the 24th pick. This is the second time Shaw has been drafted—he did not sign with the New York Mets after they selected him in the 26th round as a high school senior in 2012. He will have until July 15 to sign with the Giants or else the team risks Shaw returning to BC for his senior season.
He notched 23 home runs and drove in 107 runs during his career, along with a career batting average at BC of .274. He led the Eagles in batting average in his sophomore and junior seasons, hitting .329 and .319, respectively. Despite missing 14 games with a fractured hamate bone, Shaw paced the Eagles in several major offensive categories, including home runs (11), RBIs (43), and slugging percentage (.611).
The Giants received the pick as compensation for losing third baseman Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox during the previous offseason. This is the fourth time the Giants selected a BC player, along with Sean McGowan (third round, 1999), Joe Martinez (12th round, 2005), and John Leonard (36th round, 2010).
ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law ranked Shaw 62nd on his list of prospects for the 2015 Draft. Law and ESPN Scouts Inc. gave Shaw a 65 for his power on a standard 20-80 scale used by baseball scouts. A 65 on the 20-80 scale means that scouts project Shaw to have power in MLB similar to that of a perennial All-Star, or 25-30 home runs per season in the majors.
Giants scouting director John Barr believes the BC star will make a huge impact with the big league club in years to come. “He’s a guy who we think has a legitimate chance of hitting in the middle of our order,” Barr said in an article on the team’s website. MLB.com’s Jim Callis is also high on Shaw’s power. “[Shaw] has the tool that this Draft is probably the shortest on: power,” Callis wrote in a June 8 article for MLB.com. “He was the Cape Cod League home run leader (eight with the Chatham Anglers) last year and has as much raw power as just about anyone in this Draft.” The lack of power in this year’s draft makes Shaw incredibly valuable—Josh Naylor, a first baseman from Ontario, Canada, is the only other person in MLB.com’s Top 60 with a power rating over 60.
Law notes his power to all-fields as a plus, referencing BC’s 10-7 victory over Wake Forest on Apr. 5, when Shaw hit three home runs in each direction of the outfield. However, according to Law, “some scouts think it’s a product of strength and not bat speed,” which may pose a problem to Shaw in the future.
BC baseball head coach Mike Gambino believes one of Chris’s biggest assets is the maturity he gained from his difficult freshman season, when he batted a paltry .165 in 55 games. Gambino thinks that season gave Shaw the mental fortitude he will need when inevitable dips in production come at the professional level. “He never in his life slumped, he never struggled, but he learned how to struggle,” Gambino said. “ is a great year in his development rather than a blemish on his resume.”
On the other hand, scouts aren’t as impressed with Shaw’s speed and fielding ability. ESPN gives Shaw a 45 for his fielding skills and a 50 for arm strength, both league-average skills—however, his speed ranks as a 20, the lowest possible grade. Gambino feels these assessments, especially the speed, shouldn’t play a role in evaluating a power bat like Shaw. “You’re not paying him to steal bases,” Gambino said. “You hope he scores on doubles and you hope he goes first to third when he can, but he’s not there for that.”
Nevertheless, scouts and the Giants consider Shaw as a better fit at first base than as an outfielder, as mentioned in the above tweet by the team’s official Twitter account. Shaw primarily played in the outfield during his junior season, but has played first in the past for BC. A full-time adjustment to the infield won’t be a problem for the young prospect, according to Gambino, who praised his hands at first. “You’re not getting Keith Hernandez at first base, but he’s going to work extremely hard to get himself into the lineup,” Gambino said.
Inevitably, however, Shaw’s former coach sees his primary value coming at the plate. “How you think of Chris defensively is going to come down to how much he’s hitting and how many home runs he’s hitting,” Gambino said.
Shaw will join a Giants farm system that lacks quality bats. Ten of the Giants top-12 prospects are pitchers, according to MLB.com. Should he sign, Shaw will have a prime opportunity to snag a starting first base spot in the Giants’ system. The position is very weak for San Francisco’s minor league affiliates, as only two of the Giants’ top-30 prospects play first base at least semi-regularly: Adam Duvall and Skyler Ewing. Duvall, a 26-year-old corner infielder at AAA Sacramento, is hitting .284/.321/.538 with 13 homers, 41 RBI, and 12 walks to 51 strikeouts in 56 games as of June 8. Ewing, a 22-year-old at A Augusta, is hitting only .216/.278/.299 in 54 games with no home runs and 14 RBIs.
Shaw’s primary obstacle comes with the Major League club. The Giants have started Brandon Belt at first since 2011—he has a .272/.347/.455 lifetime batting line, with 52 home runs and 194 RBI in 471 games. Many, however, believe the Giants may move All-Star Buster Posey to the position to relieve the strain on his knees from catching and get the most out of his contract, a $167 million deal which runs through 2021 with a club option for 2022.
If anyone can give a former National League MVP a run for his money, Gambino believes Shaw is the man to do it. “I think Chris will hit 30 home runs in the big leagues one year,” Gambino said. “I really do.”
Featured Image by Michael Sullivan / Heights Editor