Hometown team honors ex-Jackets pitcher

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Madison Bumgarner helped the Augusta GreenJackets to a 4-2 road win over the Hickory Crawdads in front of more than 4,800 fans two years ago on his way to earning Minor League Baseball's 2008 Outstanding Pitcher of the Year award.

On Saturday night, the highly touted prospect was honored for his stardom -- but not by the GreenJackets.

The Crawdads, who fell victim to Bumgarner's arm three times during that season, paid homage to the hard-throwing left-hander with a Madison Bumgarner Bobblehead Giveaway Night for the first 1,000 fans who showed up at to the Crawdads' game against the Lexington Legends.

Bumgarner played prep ball at South Caldwell High School, just 10 miles from L.P. Frans Stadium. Crawdads general manager Mark Seaman said the promotion was aimed to highlight the early career of a hometown hero.

"He's got a real good following here," Seaman said. "We've gotten a lot more reaction from this (bobblehead promotion) than anything else we've done this year."

The coveted gift featured Bumgarner wearing his high school jersey. The game was scheduled for a 7 p.m. first pitch with gates opening at 6. Seaman said before the game he was anticipating a large crowd.

"Lately it seems like people haven't been as responsive to giveaways as they have in the past," Seaman said. "But this has changed all that. We've been getting phone calls from people wanting to get more than one, and we're expecting to run out of them in the first 10 or 15 minutes."

The Crawdads aren't the first team hoping to draw a crowd with the promise of a Bumgarner bobblehead. The San Francisco Giants, who took Bumgarner with their first pick in the 2007 draft, held a San Jose Giants Night at Wednesday's game against the Colorado Rockies and gave away Bumgarner bobblehead dolls at a pregame party.

Bumgarner, now a 20-year-old Giants' prospect at Triple-A Fresno, helped the Advanced-A San Jose Giants win a California League title in 2009.

ON THE FARM: Approaching the midway point in the minor league season, San Francisco's minor league organization once again owns the best overall record. Farm teams under the Giants' banner boasted a combined 132-93 overall mark entering Saturday's play, two games ahead of the Cleveland Indians' farm system.

The GreenJackets, the Single-A affiliate of the Giants, sat in a tie for the best record in the South Atlantic League entering the week, but their 34-22 mark was better than only two of the other five Giants' minor league full-season teams.

The Fresno Grizzlies were 35-

20 after Friday's game, while San Jose was 34-21.

Fresno owned a 91/2-game lead over the rest of the Pacific League's Southern Division. San Jose had a four-game lead in the California League's North Division.

ALL-STARS: Ballots for the 51st annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game were due to the league office last week. Representatives from each team in the league and select members of the media voted for each division's top 13 position players, a pitcher, a trainer and a manager to participate in the All-Star Game on June 22.

The Greenville Drive will play host to the three-day event at Fluor Field at the West End.


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