San Francisco Giants April Prospect Report: Big Prospects, Big Numbers

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IMay 4, 2009

When the 2009 season began, all eyes, and rightfully so, were going to be concentrated on what was going on in San Jose with almost every one of San Francisco’s top prospects playing with the minor league Giants.

Through the first month of the season, the big boys have failed to disappoint as well as some pleasant surprises.

The Big Boys Are Meeting Everybody’s Expectations

The minor league Giants are currently second in every offensive category in the California League and it’s no surprise that the top two Giants hitting prospects, Buster Posey and Angel Villalona, are putting up big numbers in the first month of the 2009 season.

The Giants’ first round pick from a year ago has lived up to his $6.2 million bonus, leading the talented offense on a daily bases. The Golden Spikes winner is hitting .330 with five home runs and is second in the league with 21 RBI.

Villalona has been almost impressive as Posey when you consider he is the youngest player in the Cal League.

A year ago the 18-year-old first baseman got off to a terrible start, but this year is completely different, hitting .322 with three home runs and 12 RBI. His strikeouts are still high, 18 in 87 at-bats, but when you consider his age, it should be taken into consideration that he’s far from a finished product at the plate.

Rounding out the big three infielders, second baseman Nick Noonan is coming back to earth after having an impressive start to the season. After being at the top of the team leaders in batting average the first couple weeks of the season, Noonan has seen it fall to .271 to go along with his two home runs and 14 RBI.

The Giants’ top two starting pitchers, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson, have done exactly what everybody expected them to do at the top of San Jose’s rotation...dominate.

Bumgarner, who had one of the most impressive seasons a year ago, just keeps mowing down opponents and is showing that the Cal League is just another stop on the Mad Bum Express. He has recorded a 1;40 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just three walks in four starts.

Fellow flamethrower Alderson, who is in his second go-around of the Cal League, hasn’t put up the numbers that saw him claim the league’s ERA crown a year ago, but he still has put up impressive numbers in other departments. He is currently 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA, striking out 20 while only walking three batters in 26 innings.

Alderson’s start Sunday and Bumgarner’s start Monday may be the last time that Bay Area baseball fans for a little while as both are expected to be promoted to Double-A Connecticut within the next week or so.

There’s Another Guy in San Jose You Should Keep an Eye On

With Posey, Noonan, Villalona taking most of the attention because of their premier prospect status, the biggest surprise has come from a player who wasn’t even ranked in the top 30 coming into the season.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford has matched Posey’s offensive output so far this season. The Giants’ fourth round draft pick a year ago leads the team in batting average (.367), home runs (six), and OPS (1.085), and is tied for second on the team in RBI (17).

The only reason to be discouraged with what Crawford has done so far this year, as it is with Villalona, is the number of strikeouts he has accumulated. In 90 official at-bats, the former UCLA infielder has struck out 29 times, close to one strikeout every three at-bats.

There Are Other Teams Outside of San Jose In the Giants’ Chain

The biggest surprise coming out of Spring Training was infielder Jesus Guzman and after pushing for a spot on the big league club to the final days of camp, the 24-year-old infielder is again showing what kind of talent he has at the plate.

Known for being all stick and no glove, Guzman has done nothing to diminish that reputation as he currently learns how to play first base on a regular basis at Triple-A Fresno. He currently leads the team with six home runs and 20 RBI, twice as much as the closest competitor.

The one top prospect that isn’t playing in San Jose is shortstop Ehire Adrianza, playing for Low Class A Augusta. The 19-year-old Venezuelan is hitting a .279 with one homer and 10 RBI. He is also tied for second on the team with five stolen bases.

If there is one part of his game that needs to improve, it is the five errors committed in 17 games.

The Talented, Yet Struggling

As the final pick in the Giants’ 2007 haul in the first round, outfielder Wendell Fairley was considered incredibly raw yet one of the best athletes in the draft two years ago. An ankle injury prevented him from making a major contribution last season and it seems like he has taken his struggles into this season.

In 49 at-bats this season, Fairley is hitting just .222 with only two RBI and has five more strikeouts (17) than he does hits (11).


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