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Compiled by Aaron Fitt, Chris Kline and John Manuel
San Jose outfielder Clay Timpner was the lowest-drafted member of the Giants' four prospect outfielders in the high Class A California League.
And yet, it's Timpner, a fourth-round pick out of Central Florida in 2004, who won two Best Tools categories in BA's survey of Cal League managers. He earned recognition as the league's Best Defensive Outfielder for his play in center, and also was named Best Baserunner. Fellow San Jose outfielders Eddy Martinez-Esteve ('04 second-rounder), John Bowker ('04 third) and Nate Schierholtz ('03 third) didn't win a category in the prospect-laden league, though all three ranked ahead of Timpner on the Giants' prospect pecking order coming into the season.
Timpner extended his five-game hitting streak last night, singling, stealing a base (his league-leading 31st) and scoring a run as San Jose beat Bakersfield 5-1. The Giants, who won the North Division in the first half, improved to 25-19 in the second half, 4 1/2 games back of Stockton (affiliate of the Giants' Bay Area rival, the A's), and are a league-best 69-45 overall.
Timpner has been at the center of it, hitting .293/.337/.410 out of the leadoff spot with 69 runs scored, second on the team. We caught up with him before Monday's game to talk Giants, the art of basestealing and comparing the college game to pro ball.
On being part of San Jose's success in 2005: "It's just been a real fun year. I was here for the playoffs at the end of the year last year and got to know some of the guys, and this year has just been so much fun. We just get a lot of clutch hits, we're scoring runs and we've got great pitching. Our bullpen has been really good--(closer) Joe Bateman is just dirty."
On stealing bases in pro ball versus stealing as an amateur: "In college, I pretty much just ran (he was 76-for-91 in three years). I pro ball, you've got to go at the right time (he's 31-for-42 this season). It's about knowing the catchers and knowing the pitchers. Darren Lewis (the Giants' roving baserunning and outfield instructor) stepped in with me in instructional league and really worked with me on getting better jumps, better leads and reading pitchers."
On his path to pro ball: "The Rangers actually drafted me (41st round) as a pitcher out of (LaBelle High in Alva, Fla.) in 2001, but I didn't think I was ready and went to Central Florida. I went as a lefthanded pitcher and maybe I'd get a chance to hit, but I just matured and got stronger, and I was able to put my game together. I started my second game in college, went 3-for-4 and it just kept going from there."
On his talented San Jose teammates in the outfield: "It's not like we sit around and plan it, but we've talked about it some, about moving up together on the way to the big leagues. It would be a lot of fun, because we all get along so well. It's fun to watch them take BP, because with Martinez-Esteve, Schierholtz, (first baseman) Travis Ishikawa, those guys will put on a show. I know myself and know not to do that and start pulling off the ball, trying to hit home runs. I just hit my line drives and let them try to hit it over the scoreboard."
On the difference between the NCAA regionals and minor league playoffs: "I think the biggest thing is series play is just very different from regionals. It was really intense playing against Modesto last year when they were the A's. You notice the rivalry; you read about it in the paper. There may not be as many fans in the (minor league) playoffs, but in both cases, you want that ring, and it can get very intense."
• In what manager Tony La Russa called a "one shot deal," the Cardinals called up righthander Anthony Reyes to make a spot start tonight in Milwaukee. "It came as a complete surprise to me," Reyes told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I wasn't expecting anything." Reyes was 7-4, 3.44 with 106 strikeouts in 104 innings this season at Triple-A Memphis. He spent nearly three weeks on the disabled list with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. Since coming off the DL, the 15th-round pick in 2003 out of Southern California is 1-1, 4.50 in 33 innings.
• The Braves promoted lefthander Chuck James to Triple-A Richmond. The 23-year-old went a combined 12-4, 1.78 with 163 strikeouts in 126 innings between high Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Mississippi this season.
• Monday night was the best sign of encouragement yet for righthander Edwin Jackson. Jackson, who was reassigned in mid-June after struggling in the Triple-A Las Vegas rotation, tossed eight shutout innings in a 1-0 Double-A Jacksonville win against Chattanooga. Jackson struck out eight and walked one. Since being sent down to the Suns, the sixth-round pick in 2001 is now 5-4, 3.83 in 54 innings. But perhaps the best news was came from lefthander Greg Miller, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning to lock down the save--striking out two. Miller, who is coming back from a pair of shoulder surgeries, arrived Sunday in Jacksonville and will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
• Triple-A Fresno righthander Matt Cain has been hit hard at times this season and also has battled command problems as evidenced by his league-leading walk totals (68). But Cain has blow-away stuff and also leads the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts with 152 strikeouts in 128 innings. Monday, Cain allowed four earned runs on seven hits in a 5-4 win against Albuquerque. On the season, the 20-year-old righthander is now 9-5, 4.64.
• Blue Jays lefthander David Purcey picked up his first Double-A win Monday in the first game of a doubleheader against Harrisburg as the Fisher Cats defeated the Senators, 2-1. Purcey, a first-round pick last year out of Oklahoma, allowed a run on three hits over seven innings. He struck out three and walked one. Purcey's performance bested Nationals righthander Darrell Rasner, who allowed two earned runs on four hits over six innings.
• Dodgers first baseman James Loney is heating up with the weather this August. Loney, a first-round pick in 2002, is hitting .424 (14-for-33) over his last nine games for Jacksonville.
• Devil Rays first baseman Wes Bankston had a tough run to start the month, going 1-for-18 in his first five games. But Bankston broke out last night in Double-A Montgomery's 7-5 loss to Tennessee, going 3-for-4. On the season, the fourth-round pick in 2002 is hitting .303/.391/.540 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs in 211 at-bats for the Biscuits.
• Royals top prospect Billy Butler is wasting no time settling in at Double-A Wichita. In his second game since being promoted from high Class A High Desert, Butler went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Wichita's 8-5 loss to San Antonio. Hot starts are nothing new to the 2004 first-round pick; he began his California League tenure in April with an 11-game hitting streak.
• Twins righthander Adam Harben tossed his second complete-game shutout in less than a month for high Class A Fort Myers. The Twins' No. 11 prospect struck out nine, walked two and allowed three hits in the Miracle's 2-0 win against Dunedin. Harben improved to 8-5, 2.59 in 111 innings this season.
• Diamondbacks righthander Ross Ohlendorf pitched a nine-inning complete game shutout in low Class A South Bend's 5-0 win Monday night against Lansing. Ohlendorf, a fourth-round pick in 2004 out of Princeton, allowed just five hits, walked one and struck out four. On the season, Ohlendorf is now 8-9, 4.88 with 120 strikeouts in 129 innings.
• Cubs outfielder Ryan Harvey went 2-for-4 with his 21st homer of the season in low Class A Peoria's 10-5 win against Clinton Monday. Harvey, a first-round pick in 2003, is hitting .272/.321/.517 in 389 at-bats overall.
• After striking out three times against Taylor Tankersley on Sunday, low Class A West Virginia third baseman Ryan Braun broke out yesterday in a big way. Braun, the Brewers' first-round pick this year out of Miami, went 4-for-5 with a double, homer and drove in three. "He's going to be fine," Power hitting coach Johnny Narron said. "We don't like to mess with first-year guys too much and get ideas in their heads. He's got awesome bat speed, but also has some things to work on. He's got all the talent to be a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat down the road."
• Five separate players had at least three hits in Double-A Arkansas' 12-10 win against Midland, but the most impressive performance was turned in by Travelers outfielder Reggie Willits. The Angels' seventh-round pick in 2003 out of Oklahoma went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a season-high four RBIs and a season-high three stolen bases, giving him 33 steals this year in 44 attempts. Willits, who scuffled to a .233 average in July, is off to a torrid start to August, going 8-for-20 with five runs, five RBIs and four stolen bases in five games.
• In another 12-10 game, this one a California League tilt between Lancaster and Lake Elsinore, 16 of the 18 starters got into the hit column. Lake Elsinore's first six batters all registered multiple hits, led by third baseman Brett Bonvechio's 14th and 15th home runs of the season. Lancaster's No. 2 through No. 6 hitters also put up multiple-hit days, headlined by first baseman/cleanup hitter Edgar Varela's 5-for-5 performance and second baseman Danny Richar's five-RBI game. The JetHawks held on for the win thanks to a five-run sixth inning.
• Royals first baseman Kila Kaaihue had a monster game in High Desert's 14-7 beating of Inland Empire. The 21-year-old went 4-for-5 with three doubles and six RBIs, giving him seven hits in his last 14 at-bats and a season line of .319/.438/.494 with 14 homers and 66 RBIs.
• Reds third baseman Mark Schramek broke open a 1-1 duel between high Class A Sarasota and Lakeland with a grand slam in the 14th inning, his only hit in seven at-bats in the game. Schramek, a supplemental first-round pick in 2002, entered the year as a .233 career hitter in 867 at-bats, and he is hitting just .207 this season in 333 at-bats.
• Devil Rays righthander Wade Townsend recorded his first professional decision yesterday--a 7-3 short-season Hudson Valley loss to Vermont. Townsend, the Rays' first-round pick this year, allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings. He struck out seven and did not issue a walk. On the season, Townsend is now 0-1, 4.40 with a 15-13 strikeout-walk ratio in 14 innings.
• Red Sox second-round pick Jon Egan hit his first pro homer, a three-run shot, as the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox beat the Twins 4-3. Egan is hitting .233 and had his fourth passed ball in the game, which also saw the debut of Sox supplemental first-rounder Michael Bowden. The Illinois prep righthander pitched a scoreless inning, allowing one hit and one strikeout.
• GCL Yankees center fielder Austin Jackson extended his hitting streak to seven games with a three-hit game as the Yankees blanked the Phillies 5-0. Jackson has seven hits in his last 10 at-bats to lift his average to .313, though he has just seven extra-base hits in 96 at-bats.
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