However this season plays out, one of the best things to have happened to the Giants will have been the strong start from catcher Bengie Molina. With both Molina and the team playing well (Molina: .298 BA, .372 OBP - Giants: 22-19, 1.5 GB), the front office has been able to resist the temptation to bring up super prospect Buster Posey long enough so that he won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, rather than 2015. And according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, if they can hold out until mid-June, the Giants can avoid having him qualify as a Super-2 player, as Tim Lincecum did this past winter, and put off arbitration with Posey until 2013.
However, with the team ranking 11th in the league in runs per game (4.35), speculation among fans and the in media is that Posey, the club's top pick in the 2008 amateur draft, will soon be recalled from Triple-A Fresno to see action at first base, with Aubrey Huff moving to left field. Such a move may not be beneficial to Posey's short-term future behind the dish or for the Giants' financial outlook in 2012, but it could be just the spark the 2010 Giants offense needs.
After batting .325 with a .947 OPS and 18 home runs between Fresno and High-A San Jose in 2009, Posey has been hot all season long for the Grizzlies, putting up a batting line of .336/.435/.527 with 5 home runs and 28 RBI. He hit .338 in April and is batting .333 in May. He's hitting .429 against left-handed pitching and .375 with runners on base. There is no question the kid can hit.
With numbers like that, he's a clear choice to top the inaugural edition of The Giants Prospect Meter, a look at who's hot among the team's minor league prospects.
All Stats as of May 21
Triple-A – Fresno Grizzlies – 28-13
Madison Bumgarner – Drafted 1st round, 2007 – San Francisco Giants - LHP
After getting pounded both in spring training and in his first two regular season starts (11 runs and 21 hits in only 7 innings pitched), the team's top pitching prospect rebounded nicely in his next six outings to post a 1.54 ERA with 26 strikeouts, 11 walks and only 22 hits allowed in 35 innings. More importantly, the velocity that had been missing from Bumgarner's fastball since last summer has reported returned.
Ryan Rohlinger – Drafted 6th round, 2006 – San Francisco Giants - Infielder
Rohlinger was batting .333/.442/.506 for the Grizzlies before getting his third call to the big league club on May 7. The versatile Rohlinger can play second, third and short but thus far has collected just 8 hits in his first 61 big league at bats (.131), including 2 hits in 10 at bats in this most recent stint. Rohlinger was sent back to Fresno on May 22 when Edgar Renteria returned from the Disabled List.
Matt Downs – Drafted 36th round, 2006 – San Francisco Giants – Second Base
The scrappy Downs was recalled on April 18 when Aaron Rowand went down with fractured cheekbone. He hit .300 with an .834 OPS for Fresno last season and had recorded a batting line of .286/.390/.486 in 41 PA at the time of his recall. He's held his own at the big league level, batting .265 with a .743 OPS while registering a Fielding Bible +/- of +4, good for 7th best in MLB.
After spending parts of six minor league seasons in the Yankee system, Hacker was dealt to Pittsburgh last May before becoming a free agent this past winter. His signing went unheralded and largely un-noticed, yet the veteran of just three major league games (all late last season with the Pirates) may be on the verge of supplanting the erratic Todd Wellemeyer in the Giants rotation, possibly as soon as this coming Tuesday. Hacker has gone 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in his first 8 starts for Fresno; effectively moving him to the front of the queue for consideration should Wellemeyer get bumped.
Brock Bond – Drafted 24th round, 2007 – San Francisco Giants – Second Base
Though cold of late (7 hits in his last 36 at bats - .194), the Grizzlies second baseman has been solid this season, batting .301 with a .406 on-base percentage after batting .333 with a .426 OBP in Double-A ball last year. Now in his fourth minor league season, Bond's career batting line reads .321/.417/.392.
Steve Edlefsen – Drafted 16th round, 2007 – San Francisco Giants - RHP
Sporting a nasty power sinker that gets him four ground ball outs for every fly ball out, Edlefsen has posted a 1.38 ERA in 26 innings of relief, while holding opposing batters to a .213 average.
Osiris Matos – Signed as amateur free agent, 2002 – San Francisco Giants - RHP
After compiling a 5.74 ERA in 25 appearances for the Giants in 2008 and 2009, Matos is off to a good start for Fresno, posting a 2.45 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while striking out 9.3 batters per 9 innings pitched through his 18 1/3 innings.
Tyler Graham – Drafted 19th round, 2006 – San Francisco Giants – Outfielder
The speedster began the season just 1-for-8 with Double-A Richmond, but after a promotion he caught fire, collecting 16 hits in his first 38 at bats (.421/.452/.579) for Fresno.
Brett Pill – Drafted 7th round, 2006 – San Francisco Giants – First Base
Pill started off modestly in April, batting .271/.321/.400, but has notched a .297/.352/.547 line in May to raise his season totals to .284/.336/.470.
Joe Borchard – Drafted 1st round, 2000 – Chicago White Sox – Outfielder
Alright, the 31-year old Borchard certainly isn't a prospect anymore, but rather a big league bust that hasn't had a whiff of The Show since 2007 when he was with Florida. But it's worth noting that the former first round pick with a .205 career batting average is tearing up the Pacific Coast League to the tune of a .336/.407/.587 batting line, including a team leading 7 home runs and 30 RBI in 41 games.
Double-A – Richmond Flying Squirrels – 23-18
Yeah most 29-year olds pitching in Double-A ball aren't usually considered prospects either, but then again most 29-year old pitchers can't list ‘former starting shortstop for the Kansas City Royals' on their resume, either. Pena, the son of the ex-major league catcher and manager of the same name, was converted to a reliever last season by the Royals and signed in the offseason with the Giants. In his first 15 outings for Richmond, Pena has collected 3 wins and 4 saves while posting a 1.09 ERA in 24.2 innings. He's allowed only 15 hits and 5 walks while striking out 21 and recording a 2.71 ground ball to fly ball out ratio.
Clay Timpner – Drafted 4th round, 2004 – San Francisco Giants - Outfielder
There hasn't been much to get excited about when it comes to the Flying Squirrels' offense, but Timpner has been the exception, batting .402/.479/.488 in his first 30 games. Timpner got a cup of coffee with the Giants in '08, striking out twice in his only two plate appearances.
Daryl Maday – Drafted 30th round, 2006 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
Pitching to contact, Maday has opened the season with a 6-0 record in his first 8 starts, with a 1.57 ERA. In 46 innings of work, he has yet to allow an opposing batter to leave the yard.
High-A – San Jose Giants – 26-17
Brandon Belt – Drafted 5th round, 2009 – San Francisco Giants – First Base
Belt, in his first season of pro ball out of the University of Texas, is finding the California League pitching very much to his liking, batting a robust .393/.485/.571 through his first 42 games. He's even flashed a bit of speed with 10 stolen bases.
Juan Perez – Drafted 13th round, 2008 – San Francisco Giants – Outfielder
Perez, who set the Division II Junior College home run and RBI marks with 37 and 102, respectively, in 2008 is off to a fantastic start for San Jose after a lackluster '09 campaign in Augusta. Through his first 39 games for the junior Giants, he was batting .350/.388/.580 with 23 extra-base hits.
Eric Surkamp – Drafted 6th round, 2008 – San Francisco Giants – LHP
The 6-foot-4 left-hander has a 2.05 ERA in seven starts, with 41 strikeouts and only 8 walks in 44 innings pitched. He's got an impressive 0.91 WHIP and opposing batters are hitting just .211 against him.
Craig Westcott – Drafted 30th round, 2009 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
Westcott is sporting a miniscule 1.30 ERA in seven starts after opening the season with 18 consecutive scoreless frames.
Justin Fitzgerald – Drafted 11th round, 2008 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
Sensing a trend here in the SJ Giants rotation? Fitzgerald has a 2.00 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in six starts.
Joe Paterson – Drafted 10th round, 2007 – San Francisco Giants – LHP
After allowing earned runs in each of his first two outings for Fresno, Paterson yielded no runs in his next 7 games to lower his ERA to 2.08, yet nevertheless received a demotion to San Jose when Waldis Joaquin was optioned off the big league squad. In his first seven outings for SJ, he's allowed just 1 earned run (0.82 ERA) while striking out 15 and walking just 2 in 11 innings.
Jason Stoffel – Drafted 4th round, 2009 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
Belying his 5.84 ERA, the former University of Arizona closer has actually pitched rather well this season. Bookending a rather nasty two-game implosion back on May 2 and May 4 (11 runs, 8 earned, in 2/3 of an inning combined), Stoffel hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 appearances (including his last five), allowing just 8 hits and 2 walks with 16 strikeouts in a span covering 11.2 innings. He's got seven saves on the season.
Brian Anderson – Drafted 14th round, 2005 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
Anderson may have only logged four appearances, but just pitching at all is enough for Anderson to consider himself on a hot streak. Anderson saved 89 games from 2005 through 2007 and in 2006 he was named the California League Pitcher of the Year when he saved a league record 37 games, including his first 31 in-a-row. He injured his arm, however, and subsequently missed the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Many had begun to wonder if he'd ever pitch again. He made his return on May 9 and has so far allowed only 2 runs in 7 innings without walking a batter.
Low-A – Augusta GreenJackets – 26-16
Luke Anders – Drafted 32nd round, 2009 – San Francisco Giants – First Base
The 6-foot-6 lefty slugger who led the Big 12 in slugging (.660) and on-base percentage (.486) as a junior with Texas A&M in 2008 is batting .300/.365/.533 through 41 games, including six home runs.
Jose Casilla – Signed as amateur free agent, 2006 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
The 21-year old brother of former A's reliever Santiago Casilla, who happens to also be the newest member of the San Francisco Giants bullpen, Jose has compiled a 1.71 ERA in his first 21 innings after posting marks of 1.67 and 1.73 the previous two seasons.
Devan Kline – Signed as un-drafted free agent, 2009 – San Francisco Giants - RHP
Signed in July of '09 out of the Independent Northwoods League, Kline has a 1.46 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 24.2 innings.
Jorge Bucardo – Signed as amateur free agent, 2007 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
The 20-year old has recorded a 2.08 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his first seven starts, striking out an even nine batters per every nine innings while also allowing just 5.8 hits per nine innings pitched during that span.
Chris Gloor – Drafted 17th round, 2009 – San Francisco Giants – LHP
The tall (6-foot-6) southpaw has struck out 27 and walked 8, allowing just 14 hits in 20 innings over 15 outings.
Kyle Vazquez – Drafted 15th round, 2009 – San Francisco Giants – RHP
Vazquez has a 4-1 record in seven starts with a 2.61 ERA and only 32 hits allowed in 41.1 innings.