Fate of the Franchise: 2010 Is the Year Buster Posey Hits San Francisco

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IAugust 14, 2009

"I don't think there's any question (Posey) is their best offensive option at catcher. Maybe you let Molina caddy for him defensively, but I'd get Posey up there in San Francisco."

These are the words of Baseball America's Jim Callis in Wednesday's ESPN SportsNation Chat when he was asked about whether San Francisco Giants' uber prospect Buster Posey should be brought up now to help down the stretch.

Whether or not Posey gets the call to the big leagues when the rosters expand in September is still something that we will have to wait and see about, but come the winter, the Giants certainly have a big decision to make.

The Giants find themselves in an interesting situation. Not only are GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy in the final year of their deals, but starting catcher and cleanup hitter Bengie Molina is going to be a free agent at season's end and Posey is currently plying his trade at Triple-A Fresno.

The question, of course, is: What do you do with Gerald D. Posey?

You have to think that, despite his age, some team out there in dire need of an upgrade behind the plate would offer Molina a multi-year contract in the winter. Even though he is 35 years old and draws a walk once a month, Molina is still one of the best offensive catchers there is in the National League.

With Posey chomping at the bit to get his promotion to the big leagues, the Giants, you would think, wouldn't offer Molina a multi-year deal. There's no that whoever the general manager will be would block one of the best prospects in the minors from getting the chance to start on a regular basis for another season.

His numbers may be down this year compared to his other two with the Giants, but the way he can drive in runs, as well as catching 140 games in a season and taking care of a pitching as good as any pitching in the majors would be an asset to whatever team he is with next season.

But if Molina is one of the best catchers around with the bat, what does that say about Callis' statement about Posey's offensive value behind the plate?

We all know that hitting has never been a problem for Posey. His numbers are Florida State were out of this world and he has the 2008 Golden Spikes and Johnny Bench Awards to show for it. In 68 games for the Seminoles, he hit .469 with 26 home runs, 21 doubles, 93 RBI, and an absurd OPS of 1.445.

His numbers aren't as insane as they were down in Tallahassee, FL this season in the minors, but they are still awfully impressive.

Between Single A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno, Posey has hit .318 with 17 home runs, 30 doubles, 72 RBI, and .956 OPS. He has drawn 57 walks while striking out just 59 times in 442 plate appearances.

Just as a side note—Molina has walked eight times in 403 plate appearances.

The numbers Posey has produced this season is right along the lines scouts have projected him to have in the majors. A perennial .300 hitter who will smack a very good number of doubles, hit between 17-to-20 home runs, and record a very good on-base percentage over the course of a season.

But just because he's got huge potential at the plate as a hitter, it doesn't mean that Posey's a butcher with behind the dish defensively.

Being recruited to come to Florida State as a shortstop out of high school, Posey has a cannon of a right arm. And like most young catchers, he doesn't mind showing it off either. In 85 games this year behind the plate, he has nailed 47 percent (36-for-77) attempting to steal on him.

The one concern, and it's a pretty legitimate one to have considering the few amount of years he has spent at the position, is how Posey would adjust to the everyday rigors of being a regular catcher as a professional. When he was at Florida State, he never had to call pitches—leaving that task up to the 'Noles' coaching staff.

It seems as though Posey is adjusting to life as a professional just fine. And if there are mistakes made a long the way, he just learns from it and makes himself better.

Most baseball scouts say that the average catching prospect takes about 200 games in the minors to fully grasp how to call pitches, refine defense, and other nuances it takes to be a professional catcher. Some take fewer games, so take more, but that is usually the number organizations shoot for when they want to fully evaluate catchers in their system.

Compare Posey to fellow high-touted catching prospect, Matt Wieters, who was also drafted fifth by Baltimore but a year before Posey was selected by the Giants, the numbers of how many games they spent catching in the minors will almost be similar.

Posey has caught 85 games between Single and Triple-A this season and will likely be close to, if not over, 100 when the season comes to an end. Wieters played had 120 games in two season under his belt before he was called up by the Orioles and made his debut on May 29.

Judging by the way the pitching staffs he has handled have thrown this year, the adjustment seems to go well. There may be a few passed balls along the way, but the results speak for themselves.

It seems like the Giants want Posey to be their starter in 2010—something that a lot of people would love to see. If they didn't feel he was ready defensively, they probably wouldn't have promoted him to Triple-A halfway through his first-full season as a professional.

With the bat getting hot at the right time of the year with Fresno, a promotion in September isn't completely out of the picture, either.

You can only prove so much in the minor leagues. Tim Lincecum, although he was on the fast track, spent a few months down on the farm.

Now, Posey and the other half of the big-time batter of the future, Madison Bumgarner, are going through the levels of the Giants organization.

It's just a matter of time before the big prospects get to show their potential.

And 2010 is that year.

The Giants didn't shell out $6.2 million at the signing deadline last year just to have Posey play some other position when he reaches the majors.


*You can find the sister article in the Fate of the Franchise series written by fellow San Franciscio Giants Community Leader and Featured Evan Aczon here.