In Between Runs Allowed, Madison Bumgarner Gives Some Reason For Hope

Madison Bumgarner is one of the Giants' top prospects. The 20-year-old southpaw was the tenth overall pick in 2007, and he subsequently breezed through the lower levels by posting 187 strikeouts and 25 walks in 166 innings in A-ball. Already rich in pitching talent, the Giants were looking ahead to having Bumgarner slide neatly into a dominant rotation.

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Things hit a snag in the middle of 2009, however, when Bumgarner - who'd previously been clocked in the low- to mid-90s - saw his fastball dip into the high-80s. Much was written about his reduced velocity, and though the organization insisted nothing was structurally wrong, explanations and excuses abounded. Bumgarner's missing miles were a mystery, a mystery to which no one had a good answer. From July on in AA, the teenager struck out just 31 batters in 62 frames.

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Still, Bumgarner remained high on prospect lists despite the unexplained issue. Prospect hounds said he was a quality pitcher, even with a weaker fastball. But now we may have some encouraging news. From a report on Bumgarner's most recent start in AAA:

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For the record, Bumgarner's fastball hovered between 91 and 93 mph, according to pitching coach Pat Rice.

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Bumgarner's early numbers with Fresno aren't the most impressive, but if he's getting some of his velocity back, then that will put a lot of minds at ease. Even if Bumgarner was still on track to be a quality Major League pitcher, those ticks could give him a greater margin of error that's difficult to overstate.

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