Madison Bumgarner Named San Francisco Giants' Top Prospect by Baseball America

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2009

To any baseball prospect nut like myself, when your respective team comes out on the Baseball America website, you set aside the day to thumb through the pages of information and read the scouting reports.

This was the case Thursday when the boys at Baseball America released the Organization Top 10 Rankings for the San Francisco Giants.

And as if he needed anything else to add to his minor league mantle of awards, Madison Bumgarner has been named to Giants' top prospect.

On a minor league team that had three of San Franacisco's five top prospects, Bumgarner was easily the best of them all, going 15-3 with a 1.46 ERA, the lowest in all of the minors.

In case that doesn't blow your mind, here's another stat for you: After giving up 10 runs in the his first 12 2/3 innings of the season, Bumgarner reverted back to his high school delivery and posted a 0.90 ERA in his final 21 appearances of the season.

That is no typo.

Add the fact that he struck out almost eight batters for every walk he issued and that's the makings of a front-line starter down the road.

However, unlike other years, there are actually more hitters than pitchers in the top five of the rankings.

How often have you been able to say that during Brian Sabean's reign as general manager?

Leading the pack is catcher Buster Posey, who was a close second to Bumgarner. This past season's Golden Spikes winner went on a tour of the West Coast after for $6.2 million, the largest ever in draft history.

Posey and Bumgarner, along with No. 4 prospect Tim Alderson, might all be teammates next season at Double-A Connecticut in a preview of what may be happening in the major leagues.

There's also a chance that second baseman Nick Noonan, ranked No. 5 on the list, may join the talented trio of Bumgarner, Alderson, and Posey at Connecticut next season. While going to high Class A San Jose seems like a more logical step for Noonan, his understanding of the game and compact swing may be enough to overcome the jump to Double-A.

First baseman Angel Villalona, No. 3 on the list, may be the only player in the top five to stay behind at high Class A San Jose next season. However, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with him.

Big V, just 18, is on the "one level per year" plan. If he stays on that, he will still reach the majors at 21. If he wants to get to the bigs at a faster rate, he will have to improve on his patience at the plate, having only walked 18 times compared to 118 strikeouts last season.

But with the kind of power he has, there's no reason why he can't progress at a fast rate. And for a team that lacks power production on the corners, seeing Villalona in orange and black will be a welcome sight to any fan.