While 2007 first overall pick David Price garners all of the attention, and rightfully so, the left hander picked 9 selections later by the San Francisco Giants is going to get his fair share of on-lookers. Madison Bumgarner opened eyes at Single A last season, posting an impressive line at just 19-years old (he turned 19 in August):
164 Strikeouts (10.42 K/9)
21 Walks (1.33 BB/9)
What can I say, but wow? That is complete domination and while it was against inexperienced hitters, you can’t deny how impressive it was. The K/BB was at 7.81, an elite number to say the least.
Not that you can compare, let’s take a look at the leaders at other levels:
- MLB – Roy Halladay at 5.28 (only four pitchers had a ratio at or above 5.00)
- Triple A (International League) – Daniel McCutchen at 5.50 (only pitcher above 5.00)
- Triple A (Pacific Coast League) – Mike Burns at 4.21
Obviously, these are only pitchers who had enough innings to qualify for their title, so splitting time between the minors and the majors may have kept some people off. Still, there’s no debating that he produced at an incredible level, no matter where he was playing.
He’s got an electric fastball, as described by Baseball America, “He hits 97 mph with minimal effort, consistently pitches at 93-94 and hitters have trouble picking up his heater from his high three-quarters delivery. His fastball has boring action and is a devastating two-strike pitch when he elevates it.” How many left-handed pitchers can you give that type of description for?
He also has a change-up and is reportedly working on a slider, according to Baseball America. While these pitches aren’t quite up to snuff, it doesn’t seem like he’s shying away at working on is problems to improve.
Andy Skeels, his manager at Augusta this past season, was quoted on mlb.com as saying, “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.”
So, what else am I supposed to add? It’s unlikely that he reaches the major before September, if at all in 2009. With 141.2 innings pitched last season, the team may not allow him to throw more then 170-175 innings next season. Then again, this is the same team that allowed Tim Lincecum to go from 177.1 innings in ’07 to 227.0 in ’08 in order to give him a shot at the Cy Young.
To think that if they are in contention, that they would shut him down if they think he can contribute for a playoff run would be ill conceived. We’ve seen them push their young pitchers already, so there’s no reason to think any different now. I don’t think he’ll make a huge impact in ’09, unless he dominates at Double A and in injury presents an opportunity, but the chance is there.
I also believe that the Randy Johnson signing is going to have a huge impact on Bumgarner. I would fully expect Bumgarner, given the quotes above, trying to get any and all information he can out of the 21-year veteran. Don’t you think that will help in his development? I sure do.
The fact of the matter is that the Giants are in position to have one of the elite staffs in baseball within the next few seasons. No, Bumgarner is not David Price, and he is not Tim Lincecum, but he has the ability to be among the best pitchers in baseball within months, if not weeks, of first stepping foot on a big league mound.
I don’t want to get too excited, considering the numbers were at Single A last season. Still, he’s a pitcher I would certainly recommend monitoring (which we will be doing closely here), because there is a chance he becomes a useful player as early as 2009, but almost certainly will be there in 2010. That makes him a great selection in long-term keeper leagues immediately.
So, what do you think? How scary could the Giants rotation be in 2 years?