Blackburn Makes Good Impressions Early

Righty selected in 16th round





SAN FRANCISCO—The Giants took a ton of college pitchers with plus raw arm strength in the later rounds of the draft in June. Time will tell if prospects such as Ray Black (Pittsburgh), Cody Hall (Southern) and Chris Marlowe (Oklahoma State) will turn that arm strength into major league stuff.

Then you have Clayton Blackburn, whose pro debut looks more remarkable when you consider his age. The 16th-rounder stepped off the campus of Santa Fe High in Edmond, Okla., and showed a poise far beyond his years while competing in the Arizona League. In 12 appearances (six starts), Blackburn held opponents to a .140 average. He struck out 30 and walked just three in 33 innings.

Sure, it's a small sample size. But club officials see a smart pitcher who knows how to spot a low-90s fastball to both sides of the plate while showing command for his secondary stuff. Blackburn even has the ability to add and subtract off his fastball, keeping the ball off the barrel.

"I give a lot of credit to (Midwest supervisor) Arnold Brathwaite and our area scout, Daniel Murray," said Giants scouting director John Barr, who gave Blackburn $150,000 to buy out a commitment to Oklahoma.

"They were on this kid all year long and really liked him. They always talked about him. We thought it was going to be a tough sell because he had a scholarship to Oklahoma, but they said he's ready to compete. So we got a chance to see him pitch and he showed a feel for four pitches."

GIANTICS

• The Giants added outfielders Tyler Graham and Roger Kieschnick, first baseman Angel Villalona, second baseman Charlie Culberson, righthanders Dan Otero and Hector Correa to the 40-man roster, protecting them from being selected in the Rule 5 draft.

• Top center field prospect Gary Brown hit .220 in 11 games in the Arizona Fall League and didn't play the final three weeks because of exhaustion combined with a respiratory infection, club officials said.