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Project-a-Prospect 2009: Madison Bumgarner

As of this writing, there have been over 650,000 comments left on this site. Though a great majority of the comments are funny, smart, or interesting, buried within those comments are huge, steaming piles of wrong. Sometimes the piles are small and isolated, but sometimes they're part of a larger collective of wrong. Sometimes there's an undercurrent of wrong that catches on, and an epidemic spreads. One morning you're fine, and the next you're in bed with puffy eyes, open sores, and viscous wrong getting everywhere. It doesn't happen often, but when it does...

In this case, it's a good thing that there was so much wrong. I enjoy revisiting (and linking to) this thread every couple of months. The histrionics and overreaction are amazing. We were all so starved for homegrown hitting -- and Beau Mills was there for the taking -- that we just completely lost it when Brian Sabean took two high school pitchers in the amateur draft. Well, everyone except for the mysterious and wise giants92388, who stood quietly in the back of the room before announcing that ducks float in water.

Another thing I enjoy: pulling up a site with Madison Bumgarner's stats from last year, and just staring at them. The 164 strikeouts in 141 innings is beautiful, and only three home runs allowed is otherworldly, but then you get to the 21 walks, and words fail. Every young Giants pitcher with a scintilla of promise since Gaylord Perry has also had control issues. Some can fight through the control issues and, oh, win a Cy Young. But even though it was only A-ball, Bumgarner gives us hope that there will be a young Giants pitcher with plus control and plus stuff, a combination that should lead to multiple Cy Youngs and a waiving of the normal five-year waiting period to get into the Hall of Fame.

The Giants are hoping to take it slow with Bumgarner, which probably means that he'll move as quickly as his performance dictates, but it's extremely unlikely that he'll appear in the French vanilla as a teenager. The Matt Cain plan -- cup of coffee when he's 20, and a rotation spot the following year -- seems to be in order. Unless, you know, he gets injured. Or traded for Adam LaRoche when the Giants are seven games back. But lets remember our (revised) project-a-prospect rules:

  1. Anyone predicting harm, injury, or a crappy trade will be banned. Go cut yourself somewhere else, emo Giants fan.

It's totally silly to predict a young pitcher's performance. So here goes!

Madison Bumgarner

San Jose: 90 IP, 2.69 ERA, 27 BB, 95 K
Connecticut: 67 IP, 2.84 ERA, 24 BB, 74 K

It's ridiculous that I feel like I have to apologize for the pessimism with those stats, but there's no way that Bumgarner repeats his numbers from last year. There's no way anyone repeats those numbers at any level for a decade. The control will be still be plus, but it will be plus in a standard kind of prospect way, not a once-in-a-generation prospect way. If that projection is close, Bumgarner will end the season as a 20-year-old doing well in AA. I haven't been this excited about the top pitching prospect since, uh, the last one. But that's saying a lot.

Of course, we could always ring the Indians up and see if they'd do a Mills-for Bumgarner swap. I'm sure they'd listen.