Next up in our amateur signing bonus series, the World Champion San Francisco Giants…
- Buster Posey, $6.2MM (2008)
- Zach Wheeler, $3.3MM (2009)
- Rafael Rodriguez, $2.55MM (2008)
- Angel Villalona, $2.1MM (2006)
- Tim Lincecum, $2.025MM (2006)
As we saw during their title run, the Giants have done a great job of drafting and developing the core of their team. Hot shot rookie catcher Buster Posey was at the center of attention, and San Francisco paid the price to bring him into their organization as the fifth overall pick: $6.2MM, at the time a record for a minor league contract. Posey tore through the minors in less than two years (.333/.427/.542) and established himself as the Giants' everyday catcher this summer. He hit .305/.357/.505 with 18 homers in 443 big league plate appearances this season, then topped it off with a strong postseason.
Wheeler was the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, and in his first pro season he pitched to a 3.99 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9 in 58.2 innings. He missed some time with a fingernail injury this summer. The Giants signed Rodriguez out of the Dominican Republic on his 16th birthday, and so far he's hit .280/.343/.355 in his young minor league career.
Villalona was arguably the top talent available out of Latin America back in 2006, and the Giants landed him for what was then the largest bonus in franchise history. He climbed the minor league ladder steadily until the 2009-2010 offseason, when it was announced by police that Villalona was a suspect in the murder of a 25-year-old man back in the DR. He eventually reached a settlement with the victim's family, however the prosecutor still intends to prosecute. Villalona has been free on bond since the settlement, but his United States visa has been revoked and his playing career with the Giants is essentially over. He has not played since the end of the 2009 season, and there have not been any updates on the status of the criminal case since April.
It's hard to believe that Lincecum lasted until the tenth overall pick in 2006, but that's exactly what happened. The Giants signed him and less than a year later he wasn't just in the big leagues, he was dominating. Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in each of his first two full major league seasons, and he made five starts (and one relief appearance, 2.43 ERA overall) this postseason, including winning the World Series clincher in Game Five over the Rangers. Overall, his big league career consists of a 3.04 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 811 innings. He's led the league in strikeouts and strikeout rate in each of the last three seasons.
Since I'm sure everyone is curious, I might as well mention that Matt Cain signed for $1.375MM as the 25th overall pick in 2002, Madison Bumgarner for $2MM as the tenth pick in 2007, and Jonathan Sanchez for just $2,500 as the 820th overall pick (27th round) in 2004. That's textbook development of a championship caliber rotation right there.