Friday, June 08, 2007

Giants 2007 Draft 6 Pick: #10 - Madison Bumgarner

The Giants had 6 of the first 51 picks in the 2007 Amateur Draft: 10, 22, 29, 32, 43, 51. For the first time the event was broadcasted, on ESPN, plus was available on-line on Bud's not much of a personality, eh? They were trying to make it into an event like the other two major sports, football and basketball. It was a nice first try but if the Giants didn't have 6 picks, I probably would have been much more bored than I was.

Disappointing But Good Draft Overall

I was very disappointed, though a large part of it was due to the damn Baltimore Orioles selecting Matt Wieters with the 5th pick when most mock drafts had Wieters falling to the Giants. In fact, Mike LaPorta was also selected before our first pick, when he was expected to fall to either our #22 or #29 picks, and I was hoping to the Giants would select him #22, which left Brad Mills as the sole premier college hitter available for us to select. There was also Mike Dominguez and Justin Heyward available too, but the Giants went lefty on us and selected Madison Bumgarner, LHP, high schooler.

#10 Pick: Madison Bumgarner

When Madison Baumgarner was selected, I didn't know who he was but I recognized his name but wasn't sure why. Later I realized that DrB, who frequents MCC, had wrote that he would fall down the stairs if the Giants selected him. I then remembered that one of the mock drafts had the Giants selecting him, so I should have included him among the list of pitchers who we might select, but since DrB was so vehement against him, I left him off, my bad.

Sidenote: Soapbox Comment

But first, a soapbox. I don't really know prospects like other commenters on the Internet - I can just compile data and information from a variety of sources and give my thoughts based on that - and they seem to know their stuff about mechanics, arm slots, etc, but I'm offended by the bloggers calling Sabean every word under the sun under the guise of advice and opinion. It is one thing to disagree but a whole other thing to call him names, like "moron," I find it all very childish and unprofessional.

These people are worse than regular journalists, in that they not only think that they are smarter and better than the person they are opining on, but then they lower themselves into the gutter by calling Sabean names. Sure, if you think he should be fired, great, share your opinion and logical reasons, but to call someone a "moron"? It really does not put you in a good light, nor reflect well on you.

If they were really that good at something that even professionals find hard to do (my study showed that even baseball professionals only find good players about 10% of the time in the end of the first round), they would have been snapped up long ago, because they would be golden. Even if they could up the percentage just 10% to 20%, that cuts development costs down significantly for any MLB team. And Sabean has brought us Cain, Lincecum, and Lowry, I think we should acknowledge that his organization's pitching knowledge has been superior in getting us these guys and give him the benefit of the doubt.

And I'm sure if any of them are reading this, they are probably thinking, "moron."

Bummer, Dude

That said, I was disapppointed by the selection of Madison Bumgarner. Not to the point of wanting to throw myself down the stairs, as DrB on MCC said he would if the Giants selected him, but I had been hoping to get some offensive help from the #10 pick. I was really hoping that Wieters would fall to us, but I guess that was wishful thinking. But there was a bunch of top offensive help available at #10, Beau Mills, Jason Heyward, Matt Dominguez, who were consensus top picks where you couldn't go wrong - in the post analysis - selecting one of them.

And I guess that is where Sabean and gang diverges, because they never go by consesus thinking. From what I read on some of the boards, the Giants had Mills in just the other day for a tryout session, so whatever they were looking for from him, they did not find it that day in the tryout. And that's the hard thing to remember as a fan, that the Giants have seen all of these players, perhaps up close like Mills, and brings that knowledge to the table when selecting.

And it wasn't like Bumgarner isn't a highly regarded prospect, he is, but, again, our farm system needs position prospects - and the Giants actually ended up with 4 position draft picks vs. 2 pitching - and the #10 pick gave us, I felt, our greatest chance to get someone who will eventually help us out positionally.

But it is all a crapshoot anyway, as I wrote long ago about the draft when publishing my study results, even at #10, the odds of finding a good player is only about 20-25% anyway, so who am I to say that Bumgarner is not that 1 out of 4 or 5 prospects who make it? I am only disappointed that there was not a position prospect selected, but will trust that Sabean took who he thought was the best talent (who is signable).

Thoughts on Bumgarner

I would like to see or hear an interview with him on his thoughts about his pitching repertoire. Most commenters talked about him having only one pitch, but the MLB scouting profile clearly states that not only does he has a decent fastball - 89-95 MPH - but that he has a good changeup: "He doesn't throw it much because he doesn't need to, but he's shown a pretty good feel and command of the change at times, throwing it in the 79-82 MPH range." That's a good 10 MPH separation there and Noah Lowry has done pretty well as a pitcher just having those main two pitches.

In addition, Bumgarner doesn't have a curve or slider not because he could not master them, but because he just started pitching them just one year ago, because his father wouldn't allow him to. Well, now he will get professional training on the proper way to throw them, plus he can speak with Zito, Cain, and Lincecum about it because they all have a great curve ball, and probably with Lowry and Misch about their changeups. And he's only 17 (18 in August), so he still has some physical maturation coming, which should add a few MPH to his already good fastball plus with professional coaching, he should be able to master the curve and/or slider with a few years under his belt.

Brian Sabean, in a post-pick interview somewhere, said that he thinks that Bumgarner is going to be on the fast track to the majors, taking only a couple of years maybe, meaning that he'll be like Cain, coming up at around age 20. He has size, strength, and athletic ability, with a developed delivery. They also like his competitiveness and composure, then Sabean played his "maturity" card that he likes to throw out about his top prospects. That comment is a bit empty because he used it all the time when talking about Jerome Williams, but in the post-mortem, he was not that mature after all, eatting his way off the Giants and being too stubborn to change things when the Giants tried to help him get better.

Overall, if it wasn't that I was hoping for a position player, I think I would have been very satisfied with Bumgarner was our #10 pick. He sounds like he can be a very good pitcher, despite the talk of being a one pitch pony (since he is a lefty, it brought on comparisons to Jonathan Sanchez, another one pitch fast-baller), it sounds like he already has a good changeup plus he only started a year ago throwing other than fastballs, so he should get better with experience and training. As noted in the scouting report, lefties from high school who has plus velocity don't come around very often. It also noted that "Bumgarner certainly looks the part, with the body type and fastball of a professional pitcher."

But given my disappointment over not getting a position prospect, I will hold Sabean to his word that Madison is on the fast track, and could come up in two years, although I would settle for 3-4 years. Unlike others, I'm not calling for Sabean's head, but I'm not blindly rah-rah either, there have been serious questions about his GM abilities, particularly in regards to the farm system, and while the addition of Lowry, Cain, and now Lincecum has quelled a lot of that for me, the job is still not finished.

For me, I'm willing to give Sabean two more seasons after this (to 2009) to further show that he is deserving of the chance to oversee the Giants into the 2010's. I am inclined to give it to him, but his stumbles with free agents and trades since the World Series has put doubt in the minds of fans including me. However, I'm hoping he will once again - once the farm system is brimming with pitching - be the GM who got us players like Kent, Snow, Burks, and Schmidt via trades of promising pitchers.

Sabean's New Era

This a dawning of a new era for Sabean. In the beginning, his first era, he really didn't have any good prospects, but because every organization has to have a Top 10, he could trade off guys like Grilli and Vogelsong and get good players in return. Then he started getting good players in the draft, starting with Ainsworth and Williams, then Foppert and Cain, and that started his second era. He could no longer trade away his top prospects because they were actually good - for a while at least in some cases - and this limited the trades he could do because teams would insist on his best prospects.

Now his third era begins, when you take the cream off the top and trade off the rest for good stuff. If Bumgarner and Alderson are as good as Sabean says that they are - capable of making the majors in two years - soon our rotation will be full. Zito, Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum will take four spots, potentially, then there will be Sanchez, Bumgarner, and Alderson. That will give us two starting pitchers to trade away, maybe three, as most teams don't need a great #5 starter. That should get us one to three good position prospects in return. And that is not counting any other pitching prospects coming out of the woodwork and surprising the team by rising quickly, like maybe Adam Cowart, he doesn't impress scouts, but like Al Davis's motto, "he just wins, baby!"

This is what I was writing about years ago about Sabean and his predilection for pitching, once you get a solid core set of pitchers, then you can go about and start trading off the spillover for the position players you need. While I was disappointed with not getting a position player at #10, I am excited over the trade possibilities for Sabean going forward when they start to percolate up to the majors. He clearly understands baseball skills, otherwise he would never have gotten Kent for Williams, Burks for Hamilton, Snow for Watson (or was it another pitcher?). Or even David Bell for that utility infielder. He's also the guy who was head of player personnel for the Yankees when they signed and developed Jeter, Posada, Mariano, and Bernie Williams, plus they also drafted JT Snow while he was there.

Unfortunately injuries to many of his high price signings - Nen, Alfonzo, Durham, Benitez, Alou, Matheny, Roberts - have sullied his reputation and now he's fighting for his professional career here in SF and for the legacy of his tenure here. Given his successes with Lincecum, Cain, Lowry, I think he is deserving of a couple more years to further fulfill his vision for the team, for the organization. I hope Magowan gives him that chance when the season is over.


  1. Hello Martin. Yeah, it is hard to speculate why the Giants passed on Heyward and Dominguez. I'm not surprised they passed on Mills, if he could play in the field it was going to be at 1b - and I think there were huge questions about his adequacy there. He is much better of in a league where he can be DH. Maybe they just thought there was less risk with the two pitchers + thought they would advance quicker.
    Even with that, and while there are several 'could have beens,' what they did end up with was rated the 2nd best first day by K Law. Using his predraft rankings, they got the 16th, 17th, 22nd, and 32nd players in the draft. They also got a guy, Fairly, who as nearly as I can tell project just as good as Heyward/Dominguez. I also think they came away with an excellent catching prospect.
    Using your odds, I think one of Heyward, Mills, Dominguez becomes a big contributor. I think 3 of the first 5 selections become important contributors.

  2. I wish I could feel the same, as I used to be like that too. I remember the Giants picking up Royce Clayton with their first pick, and seeing all the HRs he hit, and I was thinking "Woo-hoo! A homerun hitting SS, how great would that be for us!" Remlinger, Grant, etc.

    Yeah, it is very encouraging that Keith Law likes our draft so much, he's saber-oriented and comes from the front office of Toronto.

    If you look in the commentary in the MCC threads on the draft, I noted that I was not comfortable with selecting Mills at #10. I agree with you, I felt the same, that he's another DH type and we already have one in EME. I think I made this point in the comments.

    We will be extremely lucky if we get ONE of the first 5 selections becoming a good player, let alone 3 of the 5. That would be one of the best drafts ever probably.

  3. What a difference a few years makes. Bumgarner is the best of the class!

  4. Came across this when I was searching for draft analysis on Bumgarner, OGC. This was a franchise altering pick for the Giants. Where would we be without Bum? Your hunch was slightly right- he wasn't only a good pitcher but a great one!

    1. Yeah, predicting whether a prospect would be good is hard enough, predicting greatness, almost impossible (only ones I've felt that going into the draft was Strasburg and Harper, that comes to mind quickest; not a lot of obvious ones, unlike NBA or NFL).

      Yeah, wow, franchise altering to say the least! While both Lincecum and Posey were arguably the right picks available when selected, Bumgarner wasn't, with Heyward being probably considered the best pick available at that point (what wasn't known then was that Braves scout had already worked out a deal with him, so he told everyone else he was going to school, which made sense, he was the son of two college professors, and he fell to the Braves.)

      Re-reading my post, I feel that it aged well, easy to fall under the wheels with what one writes about the draft. I regret mentioning DrB so often, but that quote was gold back then. DrB is someone's opinion I trust greatly, back then as well as today, so I have him permanently bookmarked.

      I should note here a story that came out later about scouting Bumgarner. A Giants scout was approached by another scout and that scout saw him talk with Tidrow, after Tidrow left early, and said that Tidrow didn't like Bumgarner's arm action (many don't like his cross body throwing), but what Tidrow told the scout was that he loved him, and left because he had saw enough.

      He also loved Lincecum so much that he told Sabean not to scout him and telegraph the Giants interest in him.

      Giants really changed the team with those three picks, needless to say.



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