The Giants farm system has remained very thin and low-rated over the past 10 years - especially in terms of position players. They do have a good reputation of drafting and developing some top-flight pitchers over that time frame, but even their pitching depth in the minors has been very thin. Even with John Barr taking over control of the draft prior to the 2008 season, I don't think that even the most homer-ific SF fanatic could convince me that the Giants' drafts over the last 10 years have been anything less than wafer thin.
That's why I was a bit surprised when I sat down to try to quantify the contribution of the farm system to this year's NL West title team. It came as no surprise that 4 of the 5 starting pitchers were drafted and developed (to stretch the term a bit in Vogelsong's case) by the Giants. But, don't look now, 4 of the 8 postiion players were also drafted (or signed as an IFA) and developed by the Giants. When you include how much of a contribution that Hector Sanchez made to this year's team, the position player number can be bumped up to 5. Add in the fact that both Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro were acquired in trades where the Giants gave up solely home-grown players and you amazingly end up with only 2 positions (LF and CF) that weren't staffed by the farm system. On top of that, since Melky Cabrerra was acquired via trade for Dirty Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo, and he played in around 100 games, the major part of the LF contribution to the 2012 season can be attributed to the farm system. Only the entire seasons of Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias and Ryan Theriot can be considered as being major contributions that came from outside the system.
By contrast, in terms of position players, the 2010 World Champs only had Buster and Franchez (via the Tim Alderson trade) as products of the farm system - although Panda and JuggerNate did provide much-needed contributions. The 2010 and 2012 teams both had 4 starting pitchers that were home-grown, but the 2010 team had Brian Wilson and Romo anchoring the bullpen while this season we can only single out Romo as a farm system guy in the pen. Javier Lopez played a significant role out of the pen in both seasons, and he was acquired via a trade for 2 farm system guys (John Bowker and Joe Martinez), so we can count him as a system-generated contributor.
The Giants haven't drafted or developed players very well overall these last 10 years, but they've been able to get at least 1 guy from every draft between 2002 and 2009 that has provided major contributions (sometimes indirectly) to this year's championship team. They've also been remarkably successful at drafting and developing a major impact player when they've had one of the top 10 picks. It's a weird roll that they're on, and it will be interesting to see if the 2010, 2011 and 2012 drafts will continue the trend in coming years. I should also note that over the years Sabes has been able to do a very good job of trading marginal farm system pieces for veterans that have provided major contributions and he's been realtively successful at finding cast-off vets on the free agent market that he signed for pennies on the dollar (eg. Uribe, Pat the Bat, Andres Torres, Santiago Casilla, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias and Ryan Theriot). If we could only get him to clean up his record on the big ticket free agent signings I'd feel a lot more comfortable about what will happen when Zito's contract comes off the books at the end of next year.
Here's the full list of draftees and IFAs that the Giants have developed over the last 10 years:
2009: BBelt (& Tommy Joseph + Seth Rosin used in Pence trade) (Zack Wheeler likely to be a good major leaguer)
2008: Buster & Crawdaddy (& Ryan Verdugo used to trade for Melky)
2007: MadBum (& Charlie Culberson used in Scutaro trade; & Tim Alderson used in Franchez trade)
2006: Timmy & Hector (signed as IFA)
2005: Romo (& Joe Martinez used in Javier Lopez trade)
2004: Dirty Sanchez (& John Bowker used to in Javier Lopez trade)
2003: Brian Wilson & Pandoval (signed as IFA) (& JuggerNate used to trade for Pence)