Monday, December 08, 2008

Giants Got 3 of Top 50 2009 Prospects started publishing a Top 50 prospect list last season, and just recently released their version for the 2009 season. Last year we didn't have anybody on the list but this year we have three, Madison Bumgarner at 6th, Buster Posey at 19th, and Angel Villalona at 48th. Here is what they said about each:

#6 Madison Bumgarner

Statistically 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.

ETA: 2011

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 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.

ETA: 2010

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.

ETA: 2012

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

Giants Thoughts

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.


  1. I am in no hurry to rush any of these 3 prospects. I am contnet to see how they do with their promotions next year - and hope they continue to excell. At a minimum, I would want each of them to get a full 2009 in minor league ball, with a September call up if their '09 is as outstanding as their '08. Even if one of the pitchers were to make the MLB '10 roster, that would be pretty outstanding and it would be thrilling if the other one made a full or even partial season debut in '11. I definitely think there is a benefit to learning to dominate in the minor leagues, as opposed to just being quite good - see Lincecum for an example

  2. I'm not saying that I want to rush them, I'm saying the ETA was not realistic.

    Using your Lincecum example, you are actually saying that the Giants rushed him, because they promoted him from Advanced A to AAA instead of to AA, and then AAA.

    I agree that there is value to having them dominate, but at some point they know their stuff and are MLB caliber, and any extra time wasted in the minors is time taken off their arms that they could have used in the majors.

  3. A question to anyone out there. Has there ever been any talk of playing Schierholtz at first. He's got good size to play first. He was drafted and played his first year in the minors at third. Sure, it looks like it didn't work out at third, but first is an easier position, or at least that's the rumor. Maybe he doesn't have the power we would wish for at that spot, but its not a huge drop off from Ishikawa. He is the fourth outfielder right now, and we don't have a solid option there besides him, so I can see that logic. But we also experimented with Velez in the OF, and besides the famous meltdown in that Lincecum game, he was decent in right. I mean, he wasn't that strong at 2nd, and having his speed to help cover triples alley could really help in the long run. Again, his power is nonexistent for a RF, but he'd be the 4th guy anyway. Is this all crazy talk, or is my belief that these young guys can learn new tricks actually somewhat logical.

  4. Well, I should have just ask Bochy myself, he answered the question and the answer is no.

  5. Yeah, that's probably something that has run through the Giants heads at some point because of Schierholtz's experience at 3B.

    But yeah, Bochy said that they thought of it and nixed it.

    I don't know which Schierholtz you have been watching, but he's been a power bat in the minors. Not big power, but certainly some power, not "nonexistent" as you put it.

    Now, he hasn't exactly shown it in the majors yet, so perhaps that is what you are referring to, but his history, and it appears to be repeating again for the majors, is that of when he comes into a new, higher level, he comes in with zero power, as he apparently concentrates on figuring out how to make contact at the new level and keep his batting average high. Once he has that figured out, then he starts hitting for power and the balls start flying out for HRs.

    I think it's better to keep him in RF right now too. As you noted, his power is not the best right now, and that's actually a bigger negative at 1B than it is at RF. In addition, we already have a prospect showing some ability to hit at 1B in Ishikawa, and he had a breakout year in 2008, whereas Schierholtz had no such breakout year, so Ishikawa deserves the opportunity to see if he can do it up here OK.

    And the Giants realize that they need to assess Schierholtz in RF too, because if they don't sign Winn to an extension, Schierholtz is our new RF and we are not that deep in OFs that we have another good player pushing on Schierholtz in competition, unless Kieschnick does really well in 2009 and rise quickly.

    I think this is the better plan, give Ish 1B, give Nate a lot of play in the OF as the 4th OF.

  6. I'd say it's a bad idea to try and rush MadBum through the system like that. I'd give him a little more time in A ball to work out his breaking balls. To my understanding, he's showing a great early feel for them, but he still doesn't quite have them down solid yet. I just don't want to see his confidence rattled if he gets destroyed in AA trying to dominate only with his fastball. I'd say 2011 is the fairest ETA for him; we can't expect him to pull a Lincecum or Cain because pitchers so rarely successfully pull off what they did. And as long as we're probably not in the playoff hunt next year anyways, there's no point in fast-tracking him.

    Oh, and by the way, Porcello was apparently not allowed to throw his curveball, which was his best pitch in high school. You'd have to assume that would hold him back quite a bit. When the Tigers untie him, he should do a lot better. I do agree with you that he should in no way be thought of as better than Bumgarner, though.

  7. It's not rushing if he shows that he's capable of it. Sanchez showed the same type of dominance in A-ball Augusta and made the majors the next season.

    Now, I'm not saying that he should be pushed to the majors in 2009 - I'm with Boonitez in that 2009 is most probably not a contending year, so no need to bring him up for that, except maybe in September if he deserves it.

    But the core tenet of TINSTAAPP is that once a pitcher is capable of pitching in the majors, you bring him up because otherwise you are wasting pitches on that ticking bomb that is the pitcher's body in the minors.

    While we can't expect Bumgarner to be like Lincecum or Cain or Sanchez, if he shows he is capable, he needs to move up. His dominance was so complete - remember, his ERA should have been around 0.90 because he used the Giants mechanics for the first 3 games - that he should move up to AA I believe, it would be wasting his time to pitch in SJ.

    Thanks for the info on Porcello!



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