San Francisco Giants: Top 10 Prospects

San Francisco Giants

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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Andy Baggarly
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1. Buster Posey, c
2. Madison Bumgarner, lhp
3. Zack Wheeler, rhp
4. Thomas Neal, of
5. Dan Runzler, lhp
6. Tommy Joseph, c
7. Roger Kieschnick, of
8. Ehire Adrianza, ss
9. Brandon Crawford, ss
10. Francisco Peguero, of
Best Hitter for Average Buster Posey
Best Power Hitter Chris Dominguez
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Buster Posey
Fastest Baserunner Darren Ford
Best Athlete Mike McBryde
Best Fastball Dan Runzler
Best Curveball Eric Surkamp
Best Slider Dan Runzler
Best Changeup Craig Clark
Best Control Madison Bumgarner
Best Defensive Catcher Buster Posey
Best Defensive Infielder Brandon Crawford
Best Infield Arm Brian Bocock
Best Defensive Outfielder Mike McBryde
Best Outfield Arm Mike McBryde
Catcher Buster Posey
First Base Tommy Joseph
Second Base Nick Noonan
Third Base Pablo Sandoval
Shortstop Brandon Crawford
Left Field Thomas Neal
Center Field Francisco Peguero
Right Field Roger Kieschnick
No. 1 Starter Tim Lincecum
No. 2 Starter Matt Cain
No. 3 Starter Madison Bumgarner
No. 4 Starter Zack Wheeler
No. 5 Starter Jonathan Sanchez
Closer Brian Wilson
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Kurt Ainsworth, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Jerome Williams, rhp Athletics
2002 Jerome Williams, rhp Athletics
2003 Jesse Foppert, rhp Giants
2004 Merkin Valdez, rhp Giants
2005 Matt Cain, rhp Giants
2006 Matt Cain, rhp Giants
2007 Tim Lincecum, rhp Giants
2008 Angel Villalona, 3b/1b Giants
2009 Madison Bumgarner, lhp Giants
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Boof Bonser, rhp Twins
2001 Brad Hennesey, rhp Orioles
2002 Matt Cain, rhp Giants
2003 David Aardsma, rhp Mariners
2004 Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of
(2nd round)
2005 Ben Copeland, of (4th round)
2006 Tim Lincecum, rhp Giants
2007 Madison Bumgarner, lhp Giants
2008 Buster Posey, c Giants
2009 Zack Wheeler, rhp Giants
Buster Posey, 2008 $6,200,000
Zack Wheeler, 2009 $3,300,000
Rafael Rodriguez, 2008 $2,550,000
Angel Villalona, 2006 $2,100,000
Tim Lincecum, 2006 $2,025,000
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San Francisco Giants

Following four consecutive losing seasons, the Giants witnessed a return to respectability in 2009 and surprised many by contending into September. Their 88-74 record was a 16-game improvement over the previous year and it came just in time for general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy, who got two-year contracts (plus a club option for 2012) one week after the season ended.

San Francisco did miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, however. And there's no guarantee they'll continue their upward trajectory in 2010, especially if they're unable to fortify a lineup that ranked last in the National League in on-base percentage and 15th in slugging. The impatient approach of Giants hitters—they averaged the fewest pitches per plate appearance in the majors—was a product of the personnel, but hitting coach Carney Lansford took the fall after the season.

Aside from Pablo Sandoval, the runner-up for the NL batting title, all of the Giants' highlights came on the mound. Randy Johnson won his 300th game, Jonathan Sanchez tossed the club's first no-hitter in 33 years and Tim Lincecum led the major leagues with 261 strikeouts en route to his second straight Cy Young Award. Matt Cain established himself as a first-time all-star while nearly matching Lincecum start for start, and for the first time, Barry Zito performed like he wasn't fretting over being called a $126 million failure.

Sabean's work to rebuild the bullpen proved fruitful, too. Jeremy Affeldt finished with a 1.73 ERA in 74 highly leveraged appearances and closer Brian Wilson improved in almost every statistical category from his all-star performance in 2008. The farm system gave Bochy no shortage of bullpen choices, including three electric arms in September in Madison Bumgarner, Dan Runzler and Waldis Joaquin.

The Giants defied their own pronouncements when they called up Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey for the stretch run. Posey got only 17 at-bats in September as San Francisco faded from the playoff chase, and perhaps the club's most important offseason decision will be to determine if he's ready to start on Opening Day.

Bochy and Sabean have reputations for favoring veterans and giving short leashes to unestablished players, so their extensions were unpopular with some Giants fans. Their critics will monitor the Posey situation carefully.

Managing partner Bill Neukom lauded the farm system's 411-286 (.590) record, by far the best among major league organizations. Four of San Francisco's six U.S.-based affiliates reached the playoffs, with high Class A San Jose and short-season Salem-Keizer winning league titles.

Neukom said the Giants would continue to invest heavily in player development and emphasize homegrown talent. They committed $3.3 million to high school righthander Zack Wheeler, whom they tabbed with the sixth overall pick in the  draft. Scouting director John Barr also drafted a couple of power hitters in high school catcher Tommy Joseph and Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez. Two prolific sluggers at San Jose, outfielders Thomas Neal and Roger Kieschnick, offered further hope at striking a balance in a traditionally pitching-heavy system.

For years, club officials felt pressure to take advantage of Barry Bonds' presence to take annual shots at the World Series. Now a different window is opening, which should bring its own sense of urgency in 2010. Lincecum will no longer work cheap after gaining arbitration status, and Cain is one year closer to free agency.

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