I didn't get a chance to touch much on the minors last month and with the Giants starting to commit to a full on youth movement, now is a good time to take a look at what some of the future Giants have been doing.
Travis Ishikawa, a guy who's had expectations after a pretty big 2005 season in San Jose, hasn't really been heard of since then, until now. Ishikawa is quietly putting together his best season as a professional and has been on fire since being called up to Fresno. In 377 at-bats split between AA and AAA, the 24 year-old first basemen has 21 home runs and 86 RBI's while carrying a .292 average. However, since his arrival in Fresno, he has hit 13 bombs and driven in 38 runs in only 140 at-bats. Talk about a huge rebound from a horrible '07 season in which .243 with only 16 home runs and 59 RBI's between High A, and AA ball. The only problem for Ishikawa, as with Nate Schieholtz, is that there are guys blocking them at the major league level. The Giants are committed to giving Jon Bowker at-bats at first base right now, and they aren't ready to sit Randy Winn's 8.5 million dollar salary on the bench which would open up a spot for Schierholtz and/or Bowker to move to. Ishikawa should be up no later than September 1st, and hopefully he'll be given a chance to translate that minor league success into big league production.
The only notable player to mention from the Giants' AA affiliate is catcher Pablo Sandoval. The 21-year old was tearing it up in San Jose for seasons first 3 months, and although it took him a week or so to get used to it, he's begun doing the same in Connecticut. Sandoval continues to lead the Giants system in hitting as he's carrying a combined .345 average and has maintained his above average power stroke with 6 home runs in 138 at-bats in the Eastern League.
The Giants have a lot going on down at the A level, where most of their top prospects currently are. High-A San Jose continues to be the class of the Giants system, as their starting pitching is second to none in the California League. Tim Alderson (11-3, 2.82 era, 107:33 K/BB in 121 innings) has exceeded expectations in his first full professional season, and the 2007 first round pick could see some time at AA before the end of the summer. His fellow rotation mates have been equally impressive. Jesse English (11-4, 3.09, 109 k's, 112 IP) and future's game representative, Kevin Pucetas (8-0, 2.71, 75 k's, 96 IP) should be advancing soon. They may also be joined by the Giants top pick from '07, Madison Bumgarner who has been untouchable at times for Low-A Augusta. In 3 of his last 4 starts, Bumgarner hasn't allowed a run, and his season era continues to drop. For the year, he is now sporting a 1.70 era to go along with a 11-3 record and 125:18 strikeout/walk ratio. That is pretty darn good.
While the pitching has been great in the lower part of the Giants system, the same cannot be said for the offense. The Giants top prospect, 17 year-old Angel Villilona, has had a tough year with Augusta in Low-A. Villilona is hitting only .251 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI in 366 at-bats this year. Not horrible numbers for a guy who should be a senior in high school, but definitely not top prospect worthy. The only offensive player from last years draft has has been even remotely worth mentioning here is Nick Noonan, and he's only hitting .280 with a .702 OPS% in low-A. As always, the Giants organizational strength is it's arms. Hopefully Connor Gillaspie and Buster Posey are the saviors and can infuse some offensive life in this slumping system, but we'll have to wait until next summer to find out.
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