Posey Proves He's Ready

BEST PLAYER: Giants officials weren't sure if Buster Posey was ready to handle catching duties over a full major league season, so they re-signed Bengie Molina and began Posey at Triple-A Fresno. But Posey's bat-—he batted .349/.442/.552 in 172 at-bats with the Grizzlies—got him to the big leagues in May, and by July 1, the Giants recognized that they couldn't hold back their level-headed rookie any longer. Molina was dealt to the Rangers and Posey responded by hitting .417/.466/.699 with a 21-game hit streak in July.

BEST PITCHER: Madison Bumgarner entered camp as the presumed No. 5 starter, but he didn't look ready physically or mentally, so the Giants optioned the 20-year-old lefthander to Fresno and watched Todd Wellemeyer get knocked around in 11 starts. Bumgarner gained consistency at Triple-A, going 7-1, 3.16 for Fresno, and the Giants promoted him when Wellemeyer sustained a quadriceps injury on June 10.

Not only did Bumgarner respond to pitching for a pennant contender, posting a 3.28 ERA in his first 15 starts, but a newfound commitment to fitness and mechanical changes allowed him to re-establish the 94 mph velocity that had escaped him for most of the previous two seasons.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Brandon Belt put together the best pro debut season by a Giants hitting prospect in recent memory, making square contact while leaping from high Class A San Jose to Double-A Richmond to a few weeks at Triple-A Fresno.

Belt was a former elite pitching prospect in high school who became a first baseman with a metal-bat swing at Texas. But respected crosschecker Doug Mapson loved his athleticism and aptitude, and pushed hard for the Giants to spend a fifth-round pick on him. The 22-year-old made rapid progress after coaches helped him make a few rudimentary changes to his lefthanded swing and setup. Armed with terrific plate discipline, he hit a combined .352/.455/.620.

• In addition to Belt, the Giants will send second baseman Charlie Culberson and third baseman Conor Gillaspie to the Arizona Fall League.

• Double-A Richmond was the only full-season Giants affiliate that finished with a losing record, but the Flying Squirrels led the Eastern League in attendance with 463,842 fans in their inaugural season.