It's tough to keep a straight face and call someone who is making a half-million dollars this year underpaid. But, in comparison to their Major League counterparts, these five stud pitchers truly are worth more than what they are making. They all will earn less than $1 million in base salary in 2012.
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves -- The flame-throwing Kimbrel, who was groomed to be the Braves' closer since being drafted by the club in 2008, set a rookie record last year with 46 saves. The 24-year-old has one of the best young arms in the game. Considering how division rival Philadelphia is shelling out $11 million this season for closer Jonathan Papelbon, Kimbrel is a bargain at $590,000.
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves -- Prior to making his Major League debut, Hanson was considered a top five prospect by Baseball America. He has lived up to the hype, for the most part. The 25-year-old Hanson has won at least 10 games in each of his first three seasons in the Major Leagues. He'll make $535,000 this year and be eligible for arbitration next season (cha-ching).
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays -- The young Rays' right-hander still is in the early stages of his career, but he has been one of the top pitchers in the American League so far this season. The 25-year-old former top prospect is making $489,500. That'll be chump change for him in the future.
Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves -- Beachy, who in 2008 signed with Atlanta as an amateur free agent, has been a revelation for the Braves. He went 7-3 last last year and has been lights-out through the first two months of the 2012 season. Beachy's contract is a bargain for the Braves, who won't have to worry about him becoming a free agent until 2017 (he's arbitration eligible in 2014).
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants -- Bumgarner may be the best young lefty in baseball. The Giants know this and extended his contract earlier this year. However, Bumgarner's big raise won't kick in until 2014, when he is scheduled to make $3.75 million (by 2017, he'll pocket $11.5 million). Until then, he'll have to get by on his current, measly salary of $560,000.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees ). An avid fantasy baseball player and fan of Major League Baseball, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.Sources