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06/07/07 10:48 PM ET
Giants go young in Draft's first round
SF takes two high-school power pitchers, talented outfielder
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Continuing their pursuit of pitching talent, the San Francisco Giants selected left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Tim Alderson with their first two selections in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. Bumgarner, a 17-year-old from South Caldwell High School in Hudson, N.C., was taken 10th overall with the first of San Francisco's three first-round Draft choices. Alderson, an 18-year-old from Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., was the 22nd overall pick. The Giants concluded their first-round haul by selecting outfielder Wendell Fairley, 19, from George County-Lucedale (Miss.) High School with the 29th overall pick. Including infielder Nick Noonan of Parker High School in San Diego, taken with the 32nd overall selection, the Giants drafted high schoolers with their first four picks. "We knew [the Draft] was high-school heavy, so we had to be prepared to cross that bridge," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. The Giants took three pitchers with their first four picks last year. Their last six first-round picks were pitchers, although their first selections in two recent drafts, Eddy Martinez-Esteve (2004) and Ben Copeland (2005), were outfielders taken in the second and fourth rounds, respectively. In some ways, drafting Bumgarner marked a departure for the Giants. He became their first left-hander taken as a No. 1 pick since Mike Remlinger in 1987. He's also the first prep player they've drafted No. 1 since Matt Cain in 2002. The last high-school left-hander the Giants drafted in the first round was Frank Riccelli in 1971. Dick Tidrow, the Giants' vice president of player personnel, acknowledged the possibility that Bumgarner and Alderson could duplicate Cain's rapid ascent to the Major Leagues. Cain pitched only 76 Minor League games over two full seasons and parts of two others before the Giants promoted him late in the 2005 season. "Both them are on the fast track because of stuff, size and abilities," Tidrow said. Tidrow was especially upbeat about Bumgarner's chances: "Basically he has to pitch a year or two and he'll be a big-league starter."
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Bumgarner, 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, possesses a fastball that has been clocked as high as 95 mph. With that effective a pitch, he's still working on developing his curveball and changeup. He was 11-2 with one save and a 1.05 ERA for South Caldwell this year. In 86 1/3 innings, Bumgarner struck out 145, allowed 45 hits and walked 11. With his size, the 17-year-old has inspired comparisons to Mark Mulder and Andy Pettitte. Bumgarner established himself long before his senior season. As a junior, he finished 12-2 with a 0.99 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 84 innings for South Caldwell, the runner-up in North Carolina's Class 4-A level. For good measure, he hit .392 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs. He was similarly impressive as a sophomore (9-2, 1.20 ERA, 130 strikeouts in 77 innings) and freshman (1.63 ERA, 53 strikeouts in 30 innings). Alderson, 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds, has demonstrated remarkable command. In 72 1/3 innings this season, he struck out 111 and walked four. Last year, he was 8-3 with a 0.95 ERA, 122 strikeouts and eight walks. As a Horizon sophomore in 2005, Alderson finished 8-1 with a 0.13 ERA. His fastball approaches the mid-90 mph range, and scouts believe that his curveball has the potential to become a decent pitch. Much like Tim Lincecum, the Giants' No. 1 pick from 2006 who already has ascended to their Major League rotation, Alderson has a somewhat unusual delivery. He pitches exclusively from the stretch position and uses what scouts describe as an unorthodox arm action. Alderson attributed his control to "being able to repeat my motion evey pitch and feeling comfortable with all my pitches" -- which, he acknowledged, could be a function of pitching from the stretch. But Alderson indicated that he'd learn to pitch from a windup, which observers believe could be necessary for him to increase his velocity. "I have absolutely no problem with the windup at all," he said. Alderson has been offered a scholarship to Oregon State University, the NCAA's reigning College World Series champions. "I'm not sure at this time," Alderson said when asked about his immediate plans. "I'm just enjoying the moment right now." Fairley, a left-handed batter who has been compared to Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford, hit .538 with nine home runs this season. Although Fairley, a star wide receiver in high school, received offers to play football at Louisiana State University and Florida, he declared that "baseball's my main sport." Fairley has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Southern Mississippi, but hinted that he'd prefer to sign a professional contract. "I'm with the Giants now," he said. Fairley also pitched for George County-Lucedale. Last year, he hit .451 and finished 5-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 50 innings, prompting him to be selected to Louisville Slugger's 2007 Preseason All-America High School team. ESPN's Keith Law recently reported that Fairley's reputation was marred by a "litany of off-field issues, including a hazing incident on the team bus and a potentially more serious incident that's still under investigation." Law also said on ESPN2's Draft telecast that Fairley possesses "tremendous, tremendous talent." And Sabean said of Fairley on the same program, "We think he's one of the best athletes in the Draft, whether it be high school or college." The Giants, who had six of Thursday's first 51 selections, picked four other players on the Draft's first day: -- Noonan, 18, a left-handed batter who has played mostly shortstop but is projected as a second baseman due to lack of arm strength. He hit .540 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 35 games this season besides stealing 42 bases in 44 attempts. -- Jackson Williams, a catcher from the University of Oklahoma (43rd overall selection). The right-handed batter hit .344 this season with four home runs and 44 RBIs in 55 games. "We see him as a big-league starter in the future," Tidrow said of Williams, 21. "He's probably the best defensive catcher in the draft." -- Charlie Culberson, 18, a shortstop from Calhoun (Ga.) High School (51st overall selection). A right-handed hitter whom Tidrow projected as a second or third baseman, Culberson hit .512 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs. The Giants selected his father, Charles, in the 16th round of the 1984 Draft as an outfielder. -- Chance Corgan, 21, a right-hander from Texas Christian University (fifth round, 164th overall selection). He finished 7-1 with a 4.48 ERA in 18 games this season, including 16 starts. "He pitched a lot of innings over last three years," Tidrow said. "He has a good curveball, a good fastball and he's very athletic."
Top San Francisco Draft Picks
|10||Bumgarner, Madison||South Caldwell HS||LHP|
|22||Alderson, Timothy||Horizon HS||RHP|
|29||Fairley, Wendell||George County HS||CF|
|32||Noonan, Nicholas||Francis Parker HS||SS|
|43||Williams, Jackson||U Oklahoma||C|
|51||Culberson, Charles||Calhoun HS||SS|
|164||Corgan, Chance||Texas Christian U||RHP|
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.