Giants Draft Pitching Phenom Zack Wheeler

The San Francisco Giants are a terrific pitching ballclub hobbled by mediocre-to-downright-crappy hitting.  So with the sixth overall pick in yesterday's Major League Baseball Draft, the Giants selected... more pitching?

Yes, more pitching -- the Giants plucked Georgia high school pitching phenom Zack Wheeler with the sixth pick in the draft. Wheeler is an 18-year-old with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball who just graduated from high school five days ago. He was the 2009 Gatorade High School Player of the Year whose opponents batted but .118 against him for the season.  He's a sometimes Designated Hitter whose MySpace profile shows that his current mood is "crunk".

Wheeler was clearly a "best player available" pick. Or more accurately, a "the guy that Sabean thinks is the best player available" pick. Highly-touted soon-to-be bazillionaire pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who went to the the Nationals with the top pick, was the consensus best pitcher and best player in the draft. But after Strasburg, there were huge differences of opinion on whether the next-best pitcher available was Wheeler, North Carolina's Dustin Ackley, or semi-pro Texan Aaron Crowe. Only time will tell if Sabean chose correctly, or even if Sabean is even will still be around when we can determine whether he chose correctly. 

Looks like the Giants' plan is to have one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the National League until well into the two-thousand-teens. They currently have two sensational pitchers younger than 25 in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Lincecum doesn't turn 25 until this Monday, so I can still say that.

Meanwhile, over in Double-A Connecticut, the organization has Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson living up to some high expectations and proceeding right on track to move up to the Bigs in a year or two. Followed a year or so later by this Zack Wheeler they just drafted.

The framework is there for a Giants' pitching rotation of five outstanding starters in their primes just a couple seasons down the road. That means they've only got a couple more seasons  to finally find a half decent bat. 

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who hopes he lives to see the day when all this great pitching in the Giants' farm system actually materializes in San Francisco.

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