They thought he was too small.
He was selected as the 10th overall pick in the first round by the team that got it right, the San Francisco Giants, and he's been silencing the doubters ever since.
Tim Lincecum, already with two National League Cy Young awards and a World Series championship under his belt, has always had to contend with criticism that his small and fragile frame, coupled with his violent, torque-generating windup, would derail his career prematurely, making him a famous flash-in-the-pan.
Never has Lincecum's size and build been more tested than this season. After a very long 2010 campaign resulting in a World Series-clinching victory by Lincecum on November 1, there was grave concern that the 2011 season would significantly strain his arm, especially through the summer.
Lincecum threw 544 more pitches in 2010 than he did in 2009, and along with the bullpen sessions and other workouts throughout the season, a drop-off in his effectiveness in 2011 would not have been surprising.
Where will Tim Lincecum finish in NL Cy Young voting for 2011?
What is surprising is that Lincecum has gotten better in 2011.
Despite teammates Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Wilson both going on the disabled list this season for arm troubles that are very likely linked with the workload from last season (shoulder tendinitis and elbow inflammation), the tiny-by-comparison Lincecum appears to have put on some muscle and is throwing harder than he was last year.
So far in 2011, Lincecum is 12-10 with a 2.46 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and .210 BAA.
Over his last 10 starts, Lincecum is 6-4 with a 1.49 ERA. Over that span, he's lowered his season ERA from 3.14 down to 2.46.
Lincecum has exceedingly lived up to his nickname of "The Freak", and the freakishness of his uncanny ability to not only continue to perform, but perform even better despite constant stress on his arm due to a prolonged 2010 and the resulting abbreviated offseason, only adds to his legend.
The Giants can only hope that their ace continues to raise his own standard, and in so doing carry his offensively-challenged club back to the postseason.
As San Francisco hosts the Chicago Cubs Monday night at AT&T Park, all eyes will once again be on the freakishly golden right arm of No. 55.