April showers usually bring May flowers, and in the case of the San Francisco Giants’ top two pitching prospects, it also meant an inevitable promotion to Double-A Connecticut, once the flowers began to bloom.
Talk to any scout around and they will tell you the best way to gauge a legitimate prospect is to see how they handle the jump from High Class A to Double-A.
Don’t tell that to Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson, or Brandon Crawford.
The Giants’ No. 1 and No. 4 prospects have simply been tearing up the Eastern League since their flight to the East Coast on May 7.
While both have been dominant since their promotion, Bumgarner’s numbers have been downright insane.
At just 19, Mad Bum has given up just one run in 18 innings of work for a 0.50 ERA. With Connecticut, he currently sports a 3-0 record, a strikeout-to-walk ratio close to seven and a 0.78 WHIP.
He’s a combined 5-1 with a 1.24 ERA on the year between his two stops. Not too shabby.
If Bumgarner’s Double-A ERA blows you away, then Alderson’s strikeout-to-walk ratio certainly will just as much, if not more.
At 21-to-1, Alderson is also showing no trouble adjusting to the Eastern League. In fact, in his Double-A debut, Alderson went 6.2 innings of near perfection, finishing with ten strikeouts and just one walk without giving up a hit.
Over his four starts, he has a 2-0 record and a 1.89 ERA with a WHIP at exactly one.
Crawford continues to be the biggest surprise of the Giants minor league system. While he’s not putting up the huge numbers he did in San Jose, the former UCLA shortstop is still crushing the ball on the east coast.
His total numbers this season are as follows: .345 average, seven home runs, 20 RBI, .409 OBP, and a .932 OPS.
Doin' alright for a guy who slipped in last year’s draft because of concerns regarding his bat.
There’s Still That Buster What’s-His-Face Guy and the Cast of Characters Down in San Jose
With Bumgarner, Alderson, and Crawford heading east, the little Giants officially became Buster Posey’s team to lead and he has lived up to the billing.
After beginning the month in a funk, the $6.2 million bonus baby is rolling once again at the plate, hitting .400 in his last 10 games. His average is back to a robust .310 and he leads the team with eight home runs and 38 RBI.
He even made a trip to AT&T Park to watch Tim Lincecum pitch against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, a combination the Giants will be seeing for years to come.
The one concern is the nine passed balls he has recorded in his 36 games behind the dish.
The offensive power doesn’t stop there.
Outfielder Roger Kieschnick has filled the void left by Crawford’s promotion, hitting .347 in May after a .318 average in April.
His average for the season stands at .333 with six home runs and 24 RBI. But like most youngsters in the Giants chain, he need to work on his plate discipline, with only nine walks in 186 plate appearances.
The opposite can be said for first baseman Angel Villalona’s month at the plate.
The 18-year-old Dominican was scorching the first two weeks of the month and his average was over .330 and was carrying the team while Posey was slumping at the plate.
Now with Posey and Kieschnick the ones on fire, Villalona’s average his taken a dive under the .300 mark to .292. The power numbers are still there though, with six home runs and 24 RBI.
The one player who is slumping more than Villalona is the man he shares the right side of the infield with, second baseman Nick Noonan.
His April wasn’t fantastic, hitting just .264, but his May as been anything but positive. His average has fallen to .244, .150 in the last 10 games, and is without a home run in 23 games this month.
The one positive in May is that, despite all his struggles, he is still driving in his fair share of runs, doubling his total for the season to 20.
Down in Augusta, It Hasn’t Been a Breeze Like a Year Ago
Last season the Giants’ Low Class A affiliate was where the big prospects made any name for themselves and put up great numbers.
In 2009, the same isn't being repeated.
Shortstop Ehire Adrianza, the only prospect ranked in the top ten not playing in San Jose or Connecticut, finishes the month recording five RBI to push his season total to 15 but he seen his average fall almost 20 points to .261.
He has also failed to record a stolen base in May and keeps racking up the errors, 11 in 36 games.
Much like his April, outfielder Wendell Fairley, the forgotten final selection of the Giants’ 2007 first round trident with Bumgarner and Alderson, has not done much of anything at the plate.
At the end of April, his average has improved just one point to .223. He has picked things up as far as driving in runs, recording 11 in the month of May, but his strikeout numbers (39 in 112 at-bats) remind you of another Giants outfielder who racks up strikeouts like they're going out of style, Fred Lewis.