Monday, January 5, 2009

Notes on Madison Bumgarner

I just wanted to pass on what I came across while reading up on some of the post-2008 minor league awards.

Going into 2008, Mad-Bum didn't have much of a breaking ball, and relied heavily on his fastball to get batters out. However, according to an interview with posted on November 25th, Bumgarner said:  
"My slider and curve got a lot better. I didn't really have a breaking ball coming into the instructional league last year. It just got better and better [as the year went on]. It just kind of clicked."

I haven't been able to find any recent scouting reports that indicate whether Bumgardner's breaking ball pitches have improved as much as he thinks they have, but his 71 strike outs over his last 53 innings while allowing just 5 walks suggest that there is some truth to his ascertations.  From July to August his strikeout rate went from a respectable 23.8% to an astounding 41%.

An interview with Bumgardner's A ball  pitching coach Ross Grimsley that was posted on September 2nd contains the following:

Q: Can you break down what he throws and what he’s working on?
A: He’s worked on a slider. He had a curveball in the spring but it was erratic. It seemed more like a knuckle curve to me and he wasn’t consistent with it. The slider has gotten better. He’s around the plate with it. It’s got a sharper break and more tilt.

But the biggest thing is the changeup. He’ll need that for the higher levels and he understands that. Down here, he’s just throwing the ball by guys. The closer to home plate they get, the more he reaches back and goes after them. For 19, he’s a very mature, smart kid. He knows he’s got some things he’s got to work on to make himself a more complete pitcher, not just a thrower.

Though none of the above information is definite, there are very good indications that Mad-Bum is developing very quickly and could be developing his secondary pitches much more quickly than anyone expected.  If that's the case, the Giants could have a very talented young major league ready pitcher on their hands within the next 2 to 3 years. 

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