Brown Brings Fast Times To San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO—The Giants did plenty of homework on Gary Brown, but the Cal State Fullerton center fielder provided the club with some extra inside information in the hours prior to the draft.
Brown heard the Giants might take him with the 24th pick in the draft. He also knew they might be apprehensive about the middle left finger that he fractured on the basepaths in mid-May.
So he snapped a cell phone picture of his finger and sent it to Giants officials.
"I think the cell phone picture sealed the deal," Brown said. "Words can't express what I am feeling right now. I am very, very excited."
The Giants were happy to receive the picture, but they had gathered plenty of their own intelligence on Brown. Scouting director John Barr said no fewer than 10 scouts wrote up reports after watching him during his junior season, when the 21-year-old hit .438 with 20 doubles, eight triples and six home runs. He stole 31 bases in 36 attempts and scored 62 runs in 48 games.
Barr said the Giants also had extensive reports on Brown from the Cape Cod League and high school, too. He said Brown "can be an everyday center fielder in the big leagues, a bat at the top of a lineup and a catalyst because of his speed."
Barr described Brown's speed as plus-plus. The 6-foot, 185-pound athlete has a few quirks in his righthanded swing, but he is more than a slap-and-run hitter.
"Home runs won't be his game, but he'll drive the ball alley to alley and run," Barr said.
Brown broke his finger on a slide May 16 and was sidelined for the next three weeks. It's possible he will be cleared to play in the College World Series if the Titans advance to super regionals.
Barr said the Giants were prepared to take the best available player, but they leaned toward a hitter because they felt several quality arms would be available to them in subsequent rounds. Brown was high on their board.
"He's definitely a player we were hoping would get to us," Barr said.
The Giants hadn't taken an outfielder with their first pick in the first round since 1994, when they selected Dante Powell, another Cal State Fullerton product. Powell played just 70 games in the big leagues.
Barr didn't have a timeline for Brown, but the Giants would be happy if he's ready to contribute within two years. That's when Aaron Rowand, another former Titans outfielder, will be a free agent.

• Righthander Zack Wheeler, last year's first-round pick, was placed on the low Class A Augusta disabled list and hadn't pitched since May 18 because of a torn fingernail. Wheeler had a 5.06 ERA in seven starts and had issued 17 walks while striking out 33 in 27 innings.

• Two days before the draft, the Giants released outfielder Eddy Martinez-Esteve, their first selection in 2004. A second-rounder out of Florida State, Martinez-Esteve headed the Giants' draft class because they lost their first-rounder as compensation for signing free agent Michael Tucker. Shoulder woes and other nagging injuries kept Martinez-Esteve from developing, and he did not reach the big leagues.