Having declared their intent to redouble their player development efforts, the Giants took a step toward fulfilling that promise Wednesday by signing left-hander Madison Bumgarner and outfielder Wendell Fairley, their two remaining unsigned first-round picks from June's First-Year Player Draft. The Giants would have lost negotiating rights to Bumgarner, the Draft's 10th overall selection, and Fairley, the 29th overall pick, had they not signed them by 9 p.m. PT on Wednesday. Getting them under contract puts the Giants in position to capitalize on the potential bonanza of this Draft, in which they had six of the first 51 selections. San Francisco signed 45 of its 52 picks, including each of the first 29. "Obviously, the Minor League system is the backbone of the organization," Giants director of player personnel Bobby Evans said. "Any time you can strengthen it with quality high picks, you feel good about that."
The Giants already had signed right-hander Tim Alderson, the second of their three first-round selections. But some tension surrounded the negotiations with Bumgarner and Fairley, who weighed offers from the University of North Carolina and Southern Mississippi, respectively. "I think you'd be naive not to have some doubts," Evans said. "... You always have to operate under the reality that with a kid who has options for school, you can't make any assumptions [a signing] is a foregone conclusion." Comparisons are inevitable between Bumgarner and two of the Giants' existing young pitching stars. Bumgarner was chosen in the same spot where the Giants took Tim Lincecum last year. Bumgarner also is the first high school pitcher the Giants grabbed with their opening pick since Matt Cain in 2002. It would seem that Bumgarner, a graduate of South Caldwell High School in Hudson, N.C., might not develop as quickly as Lincecum, whom the Giants plucked out of the University of Washington. But Evans said that first-round status is an equalizer, indicating that Bumgarner could be on a fast track to the Major Leagues. "When you're looking at the first round, there's not as much difference between a high school pick and a college pick," Evans said. Bumgarner, who received a $2 million bonus, and Fairley, whose bonus was $1 million, will begin their Giants careers at instructional league in mid-September. "Everything's been first class. I couldn't ask for anything better," said Bumgarner, whom the Giants flew to their Scottsdale, Ariz., training base for a physical examination. "It's something you dream about when you're a little kid." Bumgarner, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, helped South Caldwell win this year's North Carolina state championship. He posted an 11-2 record with a save and a 1.05 ERA this year. Bumgarner, who estimated that he throws 80-90 percent fastballs, struck out 143 batters and issued just 11 walks in 86 1/3 innings. Fairley, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder renowned for his speed, hit .538 with nine home runs for George County-Lucedale High School, which reached Mississippi's Class 5A South state finals. Also a wide receiver in football, he bats left-handed and throws right-handed. Fairley also played in the 2007 All-American Baseball Game in Albuquerque, N.M. Of Fairley's reputation, which has been sullied by off-field issues, Evans said, "Those are things he's dealing with privately. I feel very good about the process that he's going through. Obviously, we wish for it to be all resolved as soon as possible."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.