Posts Tagged ‘Madison Bumgarner’

The Bus Leagues Baseball 2009 Pitcher of the Year

Click here to see the breakdown on the 2009 Bus Leagues Player of the Year.

Bus Leagues voters were given twelve pitchers to consider for Pitcher of the Year – eight starters and four relievers.  The presence of relievers on the ballot caused some early dissension within the ranks.  Some refused to consider them, others didn’t care.  In the end, we decided to leave things as they were because a) I had already done the work and wasn’t changing it up at that point and b) relievers are eligible for major league awards like the Cy Young, so why not include them here?

When the smoke cleared and all five voters had cast their ballots, only seven pitchers received votes (two of the relievers ended up missing the cut).  Those seven will get the full treatment seen in the Player of the Year post – pictures and everything.  Fancy stuff, coming from me.  The five who didn’t get no love…well, I’ll talk briefly about them below, but they don’t get pictures.  Consider it tough love.

(This seems like a good time to mention that all pictures in these two posts, with the exception of Koby Clemens and Craig Clark, were taken from MiLB.com player pages.  Clemens’ came from Google and Clark’s from the San Jose Giants web site.)

Brad Brach, Fort Wayne TinCaps: Of the four relievers on the original list, three had something special that made them worthy of inclusion and consideration.  All Brach had going for him was that he was really, really good.  The 6’6″, 210 lb. righty had 33 saves, a 1.27 ERA, and 82 strikeouts in 63.2 innings for the TinCaps.

Bradley Meyers, Potomac Nationals/Harrisburg Senators: Meyers made the list because his 11-3 record, 1.72 ERA, and 108 strikeouts were very similar to fellow finalists Brian Matusz and Madison Bumgarner and I didn’t want to be biased based on name recognition.  This worked not at all, as I suspect most of the voters looked at his name and said, “Who?” before voting for one or both of the other two.

Simon Castro, Fort Wayne TinCaps: Castro pitched a seven-inning no-hitter on August 18, which made his 10-6 record, 3.33 ERA, and 157 strikeouts just a little more impressive.  In fact, that no-no probably unfairly influenced my opinion of him.

Eric Surkamp, San Jose Giants: Surkamp finished 11-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 169 strikeouts.  No-hitter or not, I felt that if I included Castro, I had to include Surkamp.  In retrospect, both probably should have been left on the cutting room floor and we could’ve gone with ten finalists.

Miguel De Los Santos, DSL Rangers 2: Wanna know why De Los Santos made this list even though he only pitched 32 innings this season?  Because he had 70 strikeouts in those 32 innings.  Seventy.  If my calculations are correct, that works out to 19.69 strikeouts per nine innings.  It wasn’t enough to entice anyone to vote for him, but it certainly made him worthy of inclusion on our list.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the seven pitchers who received votes for Bus Leagues Pitcher of the Year.

travis woodTravis Wood, LHP
Carolina/Louisville (Cincinnati)
Southern/International League
Class AA/AAA
Total Points: 1 (t-6th)

One year after going 7-13 with a 5.47 ERA in the Florida State and Southern Leagues, Wood beat up Double- and Triple-A to the tune of 13-5, 1.77 ERA, 135 strikeouts. His ERA at Carolina was a ridiculous 1.21 in 119 innings.

What The Voters Said
“Solid amount of K’s and his ERA is solid; however, if you look at his previous years he’s just not at the same level and will probably be in the minors for another year or two and probably won’t be anything spectacular in the show (watch him win two Cy Young awards now).” – Chris

craig clarkCraig Clark, LHP
San Jose Giants (San Francisco)
California League
Class A+
Total Points: 1 (t-6th)

Clark was 16-2 with a 2.86 ERA and 135 strikeouts for San Jose. Good numbers, right? Right – especially since, as Andrew pointed out, they came in the freakin’ California League, where only six qualifying pitchers had an ERA under 4.00.

What The Voters Said
Clark’s lone vote came from Andrew, who didn’t include a rationale for his choice beyond the one mentioned above. It must be noted, however, that he only voted for Clark because I mentioned that I thought Brian Matusz’s last name rhymed with “lattice” and Andrew didn’t like that. Irrational sense of whimsy, indeed.

atahualpa severinoAtahualpa Severino, LHP
Potomac/Harrisburg (Washington)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 5 (5th)

Severino almost didn’t make the cut. I removed him at one point before deciding that the awesome name, perfect 10-0 record and 15 saves, and connections to our friend Darren Heitner were too good to leave on the table.

What The Voters Said
“He’s got it going on, really. Great name, perfect W-L record, and the ability to throw effective relief when called upon. I’d like to see him in person. However, I’d feel a lot better if his jersey could somehow read Atahualpa instead of Severino. Quintessential Bus Leagues type of player.” – Eric A.

brian matuszBrian Matusz, LHP
Frederick/Bowie (Baltimore)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 6 (4th)

If Matusz had spent the last month of the season with Bowie instead of Baltimore, he might’ve walked away with this award in a landslide. In the minors, he was 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA; add in his numbers with the Orioles and he was 16-4, 2.68 ERA, 159 strikeouts in 157.2 innings.

What The Voters Said
“Definitely a strong season down in the minors, the stats speak for themselves. Unfortunately I think his stats would be even better if the Orioles didn’t call him up for some starts in the majors. Wow, thanks a lot Orioles…you’ve taken away my Pitcher of the Year.” – Chris

pat vendittePat Venditte, BHP
Charleston/Tampa (Yankees)
South Atlantic/Florida State League
Class A/A+
Total Points: 8 (t-2nd)

One of life’s great mysteries: why does Venditte’s profile page on MiLB.com list him only as a righthanded pitcher? The 24-year-old out of Creighton is professional baseball’s only ambidextrous pitcher, a fact that might make him my favorite Bus Leaguer (which is weird because he’s a future Yankee). And it’s not just a gimmick – the guy can pitch: 4-2, 1.87 ERA, 22 saves, 87 strikeouts in 67.1 innings.

What The Voters Said
“I chose Venditte first because of the grand possibility of being groomed as the future closer once Mariano Rivera decides it’s time to retire. True he doesn’t quite have a blazer for a closer, but being ambidextrous (and equally effective at both) should prove to be a no-brainer.” – Eric M.

madison bumgarnerMadison Bumgarner, LHP
San Jose/Connecticut (San Francisco)
California/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 8 (t-2nd)

Over the past two seasons, Bumgarner is 27-5 with a 1.65 ERA and 256 strikeouts. A lefthanded pitcher with a great won-lost record, low ERA, and lots of strikeouts? Shades of Sandy Koufax (I’ll take ridiculous hyperbole for $1000, Alex). Bumgarner’s strikeouts decreased sharply this season, but if he can overcome that hiccup, teams will soon fear the 1-2 punch of Lincecum-Bumgarner in San Francisco.

What The Voters Said
“The kid seemed unflappable, so it’s no surprise he got called up so early in his career. The low number of strikeouts concern me quite a bit, but he’s a winner in the Bus Leagues.” – Eric A.

daniel hudsonDaniel Hudson, RHP
Kannapolis/Winston-Salem/Birmingham/Charlotte (White Sox)
South Atlantic/Carolina/Southern/International League
Class A/A+/AA/AAA
Total Points: 16 (1st)

Lots of players had good seasons in 2009. None of them, however, did it under quite the same conditions as Hudson, who started the year with Chicago’s A-level team in Kannapolis and ended it with the major league club. In a span of about five months, he stopped at every organizational level except Rookie and Short Season, pitching impressively en route to an overall minor league record of 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 147.1 innings. That’s why he ran away with this thing with three first place votes – because those numbers are very good, and to compile them while being pushed up the organizational ladder is amazing.

What The Voters Said
“Daniel Hudson is my pick. Yes, he pitched for four different teams. He has a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio, which is pretty good. His ability to move to all levels in the minors and even get a start with the White Sox is very impressive too. So there it is…. I’m voting for Daniel Hudson with his boring name and all to win Bus Leagues Pitcher of the Year.” – Chris

Advertisements

Tales From The Minors, As Told By A Minor Leaguer

Almost every other day, it seems, I find a great new minor league-related blog or web site.  Today’s find was Life in the Minors, a blog written by Giants minor leaguer Garrett Broshuis.  One of his recent entries, “Notes on a bus trip,” had me laughing from the second paragraph on:

10:37 pm:
I’m talking on the phone to my wife just outside of the bus, prior to its departure, when suddenly a giant teenager rushes me. It turns out to be Bumgarner. “Hey, let’s go catch a ‘possum!” he excitedly yells. Since nobody can turn down this enthusiasm, I tell my wife I’ll have to talk to her later; ‘possum hunting comes first.

We chase a ‘possum up a tree, crawl into the tree, and then search for another. Nearly sprayed by a skunk, we unsuccessfully return as Madison talks of spiders. The bus nearly leaves us as we sprint the last 50 yards.

How priceless is it that Madison Bumgarner apparently acts like a four-year-old (and on the day before he’s scheduled to pitch, no less)?  I can only imagine what the Giants clubhouse is like with him and Lincecum in there.  Finger painting at two, story time at three, nap time at four, sheer dominance at seven.

Broshuis’s minor league view isn’t all humorous – he has also recently written thoughtful pieces on former teammate Angel Villalona and the difference between “pitching to the situation” and “pitching to the score”.  It’s all worth checking out.

Now Pitching For The San Francisco Giants…

Bumgarner - Connecticut Defenders BlogThe San Francisco Giants have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that Tim Lincecum, the team’s ace, was scratched from his start on Tuesday with back spasms.  It sounds like they’re being optimistic about the issue, which isn’t all that surprising, considering they’re pinning their hopes and dreams on his golden right arm for the next ten years or so.

The good news, though, is that Lincecum’s injury clears the way for the organization’s top prospect, Madison Bumgarner, to make his major league debut.

Only five weeks removed from his 20th birthday, Bumgarner is 27-5 with 256 strikeouts and a 1.65 ERA in 49 minor league games over the last two seasonsHe made his debut tonight against the San Diego Padres, allowing two runs on five hits (including two homeruns) in 5 1/3 innings.  He walked one and struck out four, threw 76 pitches, and was in line for the win until Brandon Medders gave up the tying run in the top of the seventh.

I saw Bumgarner pitch recently with the Connecticut Defenders, and while he found himself in several jams, his composure was impressive, especially for a kid who can’t even drink legally.  The Giants have to be looking forward to this next month, when they can see what they have up close and personal.

The nice thing is that he doesn’t have the pressure of being number one on his shoulders; Lincecum is clearly the team’s best pitcher and Matt Cain is a solid number two, meaning Bumgarner can settle in as a mid-rotation starter while he adjusts to the majors (whenever he finds himself permanently in the rotation, that is).

(Picture: Greg’s Connecticut Defenders Blog)

Vote For The USA Today Minor League Player Of The Year

I was looking through the Bus Leagues archives (because there’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning) and saw that last year around this time, Eric directed us to the online voting for USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year award (Tampa Bay’s David Price eventually won).

The newspaper has already named its finalists for the 2009 season and the polls are open.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Jose Giants/Connecticut Defenders – 12-2, 1.81 ERA, 23 G/22 GS, 91 SO, 123.1 IP, .214 BAA

Brian Matusz, LHP, Frederick Keys/Bowie Baysox – 11-2, 1.91 ERA, 19 GS, 121 SO, 113 IP, .211 BAA

Jason Heyward, OF, Myrtle Beach Pelicans/Mississippi Braves – .314 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 47 BB, 47 SO, .399/.557/.956

Buster Posey, C, San Jose Giants/Fresno Grizzlies – .318 BA, 18 HR, 77 RBI, 62 BB, 66 SO, .413/.529/.942

Carlos Santana, C, Akron Aeros – .285 BA, 21 HR, 89 RBI, 84 BB, 78 SO, .410/.523/.933

Not sure how much I agree with these selections.  If I have the time, maybe I’ll do my own ballot.  For position players, they seem to put a premium on guys who produce in Class AA and AAA while keeping their strikeout totals down (Heyward and Posey both did time in Class A Advanced this season but have also accumulated significant playing time in AA and AAA, respectively).  That might explain why Chris Carter gets no love despite hitting .333 with 24 homeruns and 105 RBI in Double- and Triple-A.

Bumgarner and Matusz have the numbers to be on the list.  I’m just put off by the fact that Matusz made it despite not having pitched in the minor leagues since August 1.  Bumgarner wasn’t great when I saw him in Manchester, but he has put up exceptional numbers for two straight seasons (27-5, 1.63 ERA, 255 SO, 54 BB, 265 IP) at three different levels.  His strikeouts are way down this year and his walks are up, but it’s not like San Francisco needs him to be The Man; if he can produce enough to be the number three starter behind Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, that’s a win in my book.

For the record, Bumgarner got my vote among the players listed and currently leads 38%-27% over Heyward after about 3600 votes.

One More Note On Tonight’s Night At The Ballpark

One of the things Dan and I talked about was next weekend’s series against the Portland Sea Dogs.  Those games always draw big, but none may be bigger than the Saturday contest, when Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Sea Dogs in the first game of a doubleheader at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.  Rumor has it that over 9,000 tickets have already been sold (which would break the team’s previous attendance mark of 8,903, set this year when John Smoltz came to town).

I’m amazed at our good fortune with this.  Not only did I buy tickets to that same doubleheader last week, before the Matsuzaka news broke, but I managed to get decent seats as well.

Those tickets and the expected crowd were on my mind as I left the ballpark tonight.  Literally, as I passed the ticket window, I thought to myself, “I should see if I can get the tickets now…no, just get them the day of the game…there are going to be almost 10,000 people here that day…I don’t want to deal with Will Call when 10,000 other people are dealing with Will Call…I’m gonna see if I can get the tickets now.”

Not only could I get the tickets now, but the guy working the window was the same one who handled my frantic call after I bought just two and managed to get me two more.  I reminded him of the basics of my story and told him how impressed I had been with the service, at which point he impressed me again by saying, “I’m just glad it all worked out so the ladies were able to come to the game as well.”

This amazed me because I hadn’t mentioned that specific detail of my story when I walked up to the window, which meant that he had remembered from our previous conversation.  So either I’m the only one who calls the Fisher Cats ticket office to order tickets or the dude has a great memory.  Either way, I appreciated the personalization to the transaction.

Madison Bumgarner Is Done And So Am I

The title says it all. We’re in the top of the eighth and there are post-game fireworks, but I’m hitting the road. (Early day tomorrow and all that jazz.)

Pleasant surprise on the way out, though, when I ran into my Lozoball compatriot Dan Suitor, who works at the ballpark. He recognized me, introduced himself, and we chatted for a few. Pretty cool, even if he did make me miss my chance to take a picture of the mascot.

Why Can’t The Mascot Win The Base Race, Just Once?

There should be a rule stating that no base race contestant can be older than four-years-old. There’s nothing cute or funny about seeing some nine-year-old tearing around the bases and winning big. A real little kid, on the other hand, is hilarious because it takes like an hour and a half for them to really get moving (provided they don’t get stage fright).

Bumgarner might be finished for the night – the Defenders have someone warming in the pen. He’d be in position to get the win thanks to some bad Fisher Cats defense in the top of the sixth.

First, the pitcher fielded a comebacker and fired to second to start an inning ending double play, only he made a bad throw to the wrong middle infielder. Then, with two out they caught a runner off third but executed the rundown poorly (too much throwing, not enough running), with the ball being thrown away and the run scoring. 4-2 Defenders, mid-sixth.

And it’s official: as the Build-A-Burger promo starts, a new pitcher warms for Connecticut.  I don’t know his name, though, because they never saw fit to announce it.