The guy who looks like the Giants’ top prospect is at Class A Augusta, 20-year-old right-handed starter Jorge Bucardo, who has slumped the last two weeks.  His ERA has risen to 2.38, although he allowed only one run in seven innings pitched on Wednesday.

The Giants should seriously consider reducing his work load going forward.  Bucardo is listed at 6’1″ and just 155 pounds, and has already pitched 106 innings this year, which is considerably more than the 51.1 to 81.2 IP he’s pitched the last three seasons in the low minors.  Bucardo had four consecutive mediocre outings right around the end of last season.

There’s no reason for the Giants to kill the golden goose when he’s only 20 and pitching in a low, full-season league.  If the Giants shut him down completely right now, he’d still be ready for a promotion to Class A+ San Jose in 2011.

On the other hand, the next best-looking young arm at Class A Augusta, Jose Casilla, looks like he’s ready for a promotion to San Jose right now.  After 30 appearances and 37.1 IP, he has an 0.96 ERA and fine ratios.

Today would be a great day to promote left-handed starter Eric Surkamp to AA Richmond.  It’s his 23rd birthday today (Happy Birthday, Eric!), and he’s ready to pitch at the AA level.

After 16 starts and 99 IP at Class A+ San Jose, Surkamp has a 3.18 ERA and 106 strikeouts while allowing 78 hits, six HRs, and 21 walks. I don’t think he has much left to prove at this level.

San Jose Giant Charlie Culberson is finally starting to look like the prospect the Giants were hoping for when they made him the 51st player selected in the 2007 Draft.  Aside from hitting .321, he’s hit three HRs in his last four games and now has 13 dingers on the season, to go with 26 doubles and four triples.

Culberson also has 16 stolen bases in 21 attempts.  He still isn’t patient enough (19 walks in 340 at-bats), but at age 21 this year, he’s really starting to look like a Grade-A prospect.

On a final note, coming off the All-Star break, 22-year-old first baseman Brandon Belt continues his torrid hitting at AA Richmond.  He went 3-for-4 yesterday with a triple and a HR.  After 10 games for the Flying Squirrels, he’s hitting .410 with five HRs (half his total at A+ San Jose) and a whopping 1.337 OPS.

It’s still too early to promote Belt to AAA Fresno, but if he’s still hitting this way after another ten games at Richmond, the Giants should seriously consider it.

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