Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When the Giants Come to Town: #1 Buster Posey

Down on the Farm: 2010 Giants Top 50 Prospect Review- #1 Buster Posey

Kicking off our rundown of LAST YEAR'S Top 50 Giants Prospects, we'll start off at the top, the easy ones first. The mission of a farm system is not to win minor league championships or to be #1 on BA's organizational rankings every year. The mission of a farm system is to produce major league ballplayers for the MLB team they are affiliated with. It isn't often that a farm system produces the way the Giants system produce in 2010 as their #1 and #2 prospects both graduated to the majors and impacted a run to a World Series title. Not only that, both players appear poised to deliver star quality performances for years to come. It really doesn't get any better than that for prospect watchers!

#1 Buster Posey: AAA- .349/.442/.552 with 6 HR's, 172 AB's. MLB- .305/.357/.505 with 18 HR's in 406 AB's.

Everybody knows what Buster accomplished after he arrived in the majors. The performance earned him a very deserved NL Rookie of the Year. The season was capped off by leading the Giants to their first World Series championship since coming to SF. Man, it sure feels good to say that! I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of it! There is still some lingering discontent over the Giants handling of Buster's transition to the majors. The argument is he should have played more in his 2009 September callup and he should have been the Giants starting catcher out of the gate in 2010. I believe the Giants handled him just right. Here is a summary of my argument:

1. The 2009 callup was mainly for the mental exercise. Get comfortable with the MLB atmosphere. Observe MLB catchers in action. Look, listen, learn.

2. I don't know enough about the nuances of catching to know whether Buster was ready at the beginning of 2010 or not. John Klima, at, who I think does know what to look for, has said that as of the Arizona Fall League in 2009, Buster wasn't ready to catch MLB pitching on the level of the Giants pitchers elite stuff. I admit I don't know what that means, but I'm guessing it has to do with blocking balls in the dirt and possibly game calling.

3. The Giants didn't call up Buster until his manager in Fresno, Steve Decker, gave the green light and said he was ready. Decker is a former MLB catcher himself and should know a thing or two about when a catcher is ready, certainly a lot more than me, or the fans who are criticizing the timing.

4. The results speak for themselves. You can't argue with success! We will never know what would have happened had Buster started the season as the Giants starting catcher. We do know what actually did happen and you can't write a script with a better outcome!

5. Thanks to the idiosyncracies of the agreement between MLB and the Players Association, we are assured that Buster will remain a Giant for at least 6 more seasons. Had he started the season in SF, it would be 5 seasons. The Giants gained a full year of Buster Posey at the cost of 6 weeks. I'll take that deal any day!

Things to be slightly concerned about going forward: 1. Sophomore slump. MLB pitchers may detect a weakness that Buster will have to re-adjust to. I have confidence in his ability to make adjustments going forward. 2. Stamina. Buster wore down at the end of 2009 and looked awfully tired at times at the end of 2010. The delay in making him the everyday catcher may have preserved him just long enough to get him through the postseason. I believe the Giants need to upgrade their backup catcher position to ensure that Buster gets the days off he needs to stay strong throughout the season.

Beyond that, barring injury, another thing I worry about due to the position he plays, Buster is a MLB star, a cornerstone player who will be a Giant deep into the decade.

Buster won't be on the 2011 Top Prospects list because he has graduated to the majors. The Giants organizational rankings will suffer because of it, but the MLB team will prosper and that is the whole purpose of having a farm system in the first place!

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