#6 Madison BumgarnerStatistically speaking: It's hard to imagine a better statistical season than Bumgarner's first full professional campaign. He led the Minors with his 1.46 ERA, was third in strikeouts with 164 and tied for fifth in wins with 15. He was seventh with a 10.42 K/9 ratio and led lefties in all the aforementioned categories.
Scouting report: The left-hander debuted in pro ball with one pitch -- though that offering was a plus, plus fastball that easily hits the mid-90s with good late life. His curve and slider have shown great progress and the changeup is improving as well, though perhaps lags a bit behind the others. He also has excellent command on both sides of the plate. His work ethic is off the charts and he has excellent mound presence.
Upside potential: The kind of left-handed ace that everyone wants, but few possess.
They said it: "I'm running out of superlatives. I've never seen a player do the things he's done. I've never seen a player grow that fast and quickly. What he did was staggering. ... That's an unstoppable force, when you have that kind of talent and that kind of desire to get better. I think he's going to be a very special player for a very long time at the Major League level." -- Augusta GreenJackets Manager Andy Skeels
He said it: "It just kind of clicked. You just have to have confidence in what you're doing. If you don't believe in yourself, you're not going to be able to get it done. ... There's a lot of improvement to make. Even if I had a 0.50 ERA, there'd still be room to improve."
11/24/2008 MLB.com Class A Starting Pitcher of the Year
10/02/2008 Baseball America High Class A All-Star
09/12/2008 Minor League Baseball Most Spectacular Pitcher
09/05/2008 Baseball America Minor League All-Star
08/26/2008 SAL Most Outstanding Pitcher
08/26/2008 SAL Post-Season All-Star
08/18/2008 SAL Pitcher of the Week
08/04/2008 SAL Pitcher of the Week
07/21/2008 SAL Pitcher of the Week
06/23/2008 SAL Pitcher of the Week
06/17/2008 SAL Mid-Season All-Star
06/16/2008 SAL Pitcher of the Week
#19 Buster Posey
Statistically speaking: In a whirlwind year that saw him play in the rookie-level Arizona League, the short-season Northwest League, the Class A Advanced California League and Hawaiian Winter Baseball, Posey made the most of his 128 total at-bats by hitting .328 with 23 RBIs in 34 games.
Scouting report: Very athletic catcher who used to be a shortstop. Has an advanced hitting approach, good strike zone knowledge, and should hit for average with some power. Ability to use all fields for extra-base pop.
Upside potential: Top all-around catcher who reaches the Majors quickly and stays for a long time.
They said it: "For him to come in and get three weeks of baseball in before the season ended, play in three different places, was not an easy task. He showed us he's very much ready for this level. The impact and impression he made in a brief time was very good. He's incredibly advanced in his way of approaching the game and his bat. He continues to show us why he achieved what he did at the collegiate level." -- Bobby Evans, Giants director of player personnel
He said it: "I'm learning to go with the flow a little bit and keep things in perspective. I'm still getting the chance to play the game that I love." -- On adjusting to the pro game in his first summer.
11/16/2008 HWB Post-Season All-Star
#48 Angel Villalona
Statistically speaking: His overall numbers may not seem overwhelming, but he really turned it on as the season wore on. As he turned 18 in August, the big first baseman hit .308 and slugged .529 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 27 games.
Scouting report: A big, strong first baseman with plus, plus raw power from the right side. Has a chance to be an above-average hitter but will have to watch conditioning, which was much improved over the course of his first full season. Made a nice transition from third to first base.
Upside potential: An All-Star first baseman who hits in the middle of the lineup and hits 30-plus homers and drives in more than 100 runs annually.
They said it: "You come out of Spring Training and they're so young and never experienced a full season, so you don't know what you're going to get. For someone that young, it's a testament to what our staff did and a testament to the kind of kid Angel is. He's a tremendous talent and he dedicated himself much better to becoming a professional." -- Augusta GreenJackets manager Andy Skeels
07/13/2008 Futures Game Selection
05/19/2008 SAL Player of the Week
That is part of the beauty of having a Top 10 draft pick overall, getting them onto lists like these. And remember, Lincecum would normally be making a list like this around now instead of winning the Cy Young award, as it normally take 2-3 years for most TOP prospects to make the majors. For him to make it to the majors after a little more than a month or two of pro play is highly accelerated, and yet he was clearly ready.
Judging by how well Bumgarner did in Augusta, I think that he's clearly ready as well. Hopefully they jump him to AA Connecticut and team him up with Alderson. If he does as well there, he should make the jump to AAA by mid-season, and could make the majors early depending on how our #5 starter situation works out this off-season: if we have an unproven #5 starter instead of signing a free agent, Bumgarner could push to take his spot, even if that #5 is doing well. I think he will be that good. And I think we will see him, particularly if we are competitive, as I now expect, and especially if we are contending, as we will need all the help we can get.
With the 'Dres, D-backs, and D-Rox retrenching and LA apparently hung up on what they are going to do, but losing much of the rotation without much talk of how to replace them, the NL West could be won by a .500 team again (or worse, sub-.500 team) and the Giants are poised to be in that winning percentage range. Bumgarner could come up and give us extra OOMPH, whether starting or relieving, as the season heads into the stretch run. Perhaps Alderson too, he had the best ERA in the California League himself, so he's no slouch either. That was a great draft just for the two of them, let alone also getting Noonan and Fairley.
I'm not sure why he ranked lower than Jason Heyward, though, who was third. They described Madison as the "ace that everyone wants, but few posess." However, the best they could say about Heyward is "All-Star-caliber right fielder". Also, he wasn't even the best hitter in the Sally League, whereas Bumgarner was not only the best in the league but had the best ERA in all of the minors.
They also had Rick Porcello ranked higher than Bumgarner. I undertstand that partially, as he pitched very well in a higher level, Advanced A, but let's compare Porcello with Alderson, who is a year older but also in his first pro season and also started out in Advanced A after being in high school the year before.
Porcello: 2.66 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 2.2 K/BB, 2.48 GO/AO, 125.0 IP
Alderson: 2.79 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 3.6 K/BB, 1.20 GO/AO, 145.1 IP
Alderson had a slightly higher ERA, but lower WHIP, much higher strikeout rate, lower walk rate, much higher K/BB ratio, and pitched more innings. Yet Porcello was ranked 4th above Bumgarner and Alderson didn't even make the Top 50 list.
Of course, having a mid-90's fastball helped Porcello's case greatly, but still, the minors are littered with pitchers who have mid-90's heat but could never figure out how to get out major league batters with it. With such a low strikeout rate, I would think that does not bode well for Porcello moving up, if he can't get Advanced A guys to miss the ball, how can he expect hitters higher to miss?
Then again, he has a redonkulous groundout to flyout ratio, that helps to make up for the low strikeout rate. Apparently he fooled the hitters well enough to get them to ground out a tremendous amount of time. I wonder if the Giants would have selected him with the pick they used on Fairley had Porcello fell to them? It was close, the Tigers picked just a couple of picks before. Still, hard to argue with the Giants decision to select Bumgarner and Alderson over Porcello, they both arguably did better than Porcello did in their first season.
Buster Posey was the highest ranked prospect from his draft class, just beating out Brian Matusz, who was 20th, and Tim Beckham, who was 22nd. Alvarez didn't even rank and Hosmer was 29th. A 2010 ETA is just perfect as Molina's contract is over in 2009. That suggests that Posey does well enough in AA to move to AAA by mid-to-late season, then take over in the majors in 2010. Though I guess alternatively, that means he is in AA in 2009 and AAA in 2010, until getting a September call-up, making this ETA come true too.
It will be interesting to see how he does in AA in 2009, assuming he goes there, have to assume he does as he should go wherever Steve Decker goes (former catcher, tutored Sandoval on the art of catching). With Dodd Stadium's horrible effects on hitters' power, you have to wonder if that will cause Posey to press and do poorly. That will surely less his mettle early in his pro career. As well as Bowker, Sandoval and Ishikawa did there the past two seasons, they did even better on the road relative to their home numbers, which were severely depressed because of the dampening on their power. Posey isn't a homerun hitter, or not projected to be a big one in the majors, but he should be hitting for power.
In Villalona's case, the potential is down but still good: here he's mentioned as a future All-Star firstbaseman with 30+ homers. They have an ETA for him of 2012. He was one of the youngest players in the Sally League, turning 18 late in the season - only Michael Almanzar was younger - and thus would be 21 years old for the 2012 season, very young, and still, that's conservative, assuming he rises one level per year. As I mentioned before in a prior post/comment, he did better at lower-A than Justin Upton and yet was younger, and Justin was in the majors the next season. I'm not saying Villalona will necessarily make the majors in 2009, but I have to think sooner than 2012.
None of these guys should not be prospects for 2010, so I wonder how many we will have in the list next season. Assuming they continue to earn a spot in the Top 50, they could be joined by at least Tim Alderson next season, plus Rafael Rodriguez will be having his first professional season and could join with a very good first season, as he could perhaps wow in his first experience as a pro. Henry Sosa, Conor Gillaspie, Roger Kieschnick, Brandon Crawford, Nick Noonan, and Wendell Fairley could also make the list if they perform well enough in 2008. I would also throw out the names Ehire Adrianza and Hector Sanchez as well.