04/11/09 1:54 AM ET
Bumgarner cruises in Cal League debut
Heralded first-rounder tosses six shutout innings for San Jose
By John Torenli / Special to MLB.com
MLB.com's reigning Class A Starting Pitcher of the Year didn't blink at the pressure of making his Class A Advanced debut Friday night, allowing two hits over six scoreless innings in the San Jose Giants' 4-0 blanking of the visiting Stockton Ports.
Bumgarner, who went 15-3 with a Minor League-leading 1.46 ERA in 24 starts for Augusta of the South Atlantic League last season, admitted he was a bit nervous prior to his first outing in San Jose.
"I felt a little bit of extra pressure," he said after striking out five without issuing a walk before reaching his pitch count at 62. "I'm facing better players here, so I really wanted to have a good outing."
San Francisco's first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft pitched more like a poised veteran than a 19-year-old left-hander trying to impress him new manager and teammates.
While fanning four of the first six batters he faced, Bumgarner overcame a couple of singles -- one a line drive into left field in the second and the other a leadoff bloop in the third -- by inducing a pair of double plays.
The Hickory, N.C., native faced only two batters over the minimum during the stellar stint and worked mainly on his fastball, mixing in an occasional changeup and slider -- two pitches he tried to improve during the offseason.
Bumgarner finished up strong. He worked a 1-2-3 sixth, capping it with a strikeout before walking off to cheers from the crowd of 1,605.
"I was relieved. After you throw the first pitch, the nerves disappear," he said. "I'm glad I was able to get through with a pretty good outing."
If this performance was "pretty good," San Jose fans should show up in droves to see the budding ace continue his rapid development.
Bumgarner, however, isn't taking his success for granted, nor does he expect it to continue without the same hard work and determination that brought him to this point in his professional career.
"I give my mom and dad and high school coach a lot of credit for [not getting overconfident]," he said. "They keep me down to earth and teach me how to handle all that stuff, because I know I can go out there and give up 10 runs in my next start."
Actually, Bumgarner yielded only 28 runs in 141 2/3 innings with the GreenJackets in 2008, but the Giants didn't seem in a rush to give him a taste of San Jose last year. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound southpaw doesn't appear to be in a hurry either. At least not yet.
"I'll be happy to do whatever the Giants decide to do," Bumgarner said of the possibility of moving up to Double-A at some point this year.
Judging from his debut performance, it won't be easy to keep him down for long.
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.