It is easy to knock the San Francisco Giants organization for being unable to produce a productive, everyday position player in... well, let's just say years. But a quick glance at the minor league system shows that there are some very impressive numbers being put up by some intriguing pitching prospects. And the scouting reports even back up some of those numbers, while also raising some question marks for others.
Prospects or Suspects?
Madison Bumgarner, Left-hander
Only 18 years of age, Madison Bumgarner is arguably the Giants most promising pitching prospect. The 6-4 left-hander currently sports a 1.77 ERA in 71.1 innings and has allowed just 58 hits. Even more impressive is the walk total: 11, with 84 strikeouts. To find a flaw in this 2007 first round pick (10th overall) would be nitpicking, but it would likely be his almost 1.00 ground out to fly out ratio. Oh, and for those of you who might be thinking the Sally League hitters might catch up to Bumgarner, hitters have scored just four earned runs in his last 10 starts (including three of those in a two-game stretch). It might be time for him to visit San Jose.
On the surface, Tim Alderson's numbers are not as impressive as Bumgarner's, but you have to keep in mind that the prospect is pitching in High-A ball, having skipped over Low A-ball entirely. Alderson was available to the Giants with the 22nd overall pick of the 2007 draft because there were enough teams worried about his mechanics to make him slide. But hey, people were somewhat critical of a guy named Tim Lincecum too. In 79.1 innings this year, Alderson has allowed just 75 hits, along with 25 walks. He has struck out 65 batters. Left-handers are hitting .293 against him, compared to righties at .203. Regardless, the Giants are ridiculously wealthy with young pitching.
You cannot argue with Adam Cowart's success, which includes a career 2.28 ERA in 324.1 innings. He also has allowed just 285 hits. Unfortunately, Cowart has struck out only 184 batters, which underlines concerns about his fringe stuff. The sidearmer has a mid-80s fastball but plus command and control. He could very well have a career in the majors, but it will likely come as a middle reliever. His ERA is reasonable, but Cowart has allowed 100 hits in 81.2 innings (a .306 batting average against).
Joseph Martinez is another right-handed pitcher in the system who has outstanding numbers but average stuff. His high-80s fastball and OK secondary pitches have been good enough to strike out batters at a rate of 7.52 in his career. The 2005 12th round pick is passing the Double-A test with flying colors and could be a No.4 or 5 starter at the Major League level. He currently has an ERA below 2.00 and has allowed just 68 hits in 78 innings and has struck out 51 batters.
The 2006 fourth round pick is your classic lefty... Ben Snyder has a mid- to high-80s fastball with a good change-up and an OK breaking ball. He has done nothing but succeed in pro ball, unlike his brother (and former first round pick Brian Snyder). Snyder won 16 games last year in Low A-ball but should have been promoted mid-season because he was obviously better than the competition. He currently has a 2.00 ERA in 85.2 innings and has allowed just 79 hits. He has allowed 18 walks and 73 strikeouts. Snyder is probably due for another promotion.
Henry Sosa dials his fastball up to the mid- to high-90s and has a power curve ball that has improved over time. He made a name for himself last season when he began the year in Low A-ball and posted an ERA of 0.73 in 13 games and 10 starts. He allowed only 30 hits in more than 60 innings. Sosa moved up to High-A ball for the second half of 2007 and was OK. He had off-season knee surgery and returned to High-A San Jose in 2008. Sosa appeared for the first time on May 25 and has made just six starts. So far, Sosa has a 1.55 ERA and has allowed just 22 hits in 29 innings. He has 32 strikeouts and has walked just seven batters.