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Speed attracts Giants to Brown with 24th pick

Speed attracts Giants to Brown with 24th pick

CINCINNATI -- Gary Brown appears to be a perfect fit for AT&T Park.

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Brown, the Giants' first-round selection (24th overall) Monday in the First-Year Player Draft, has attracted plenty of attention with his speed. That asset will come in handy at the Giants' home ballpark, where Brown can patrol the considerable outfield acreage and amass extra-base hits by lining pitches into the gaps.

"The first thing that jumps out at you is that he can really run well," Giants scouting director John Barr said. "He has 'plus-plus' speed, which helps him offensively and defensively."

Brown, a 6-foot, 185-pound center fielder from Cal State Fullerton, is projected as a top-of-the-order presence -- a commodity the Giants often have struggled to find. The statistics he has compiled this season reflect his potential to fill that role.

Brown hit .438 in 48 games this year as a junior with six home runs, 41 RBIs and 31 stolen bases in 36 attempts. He also recorded a .695 slugging percentage and a .485 on-base percentage.

He's currently sidelined with a broken middle finger on his left hand, though he's expected to be healed in time if Fullerton reaches the College World Series.

Though Barr said that Brown wasn't chosen solely to meet AT&T Park's specifications, he did acknowledge, "You're aware of the field and what the dimensions are."

Hence, Brown can be expected to provide everything but power.

"Home runs won't be his game," Barr said. "... Defensively, we feel like he can be an everyday center fielder [and] a catalyst offensively with defense and speed. ... He has enough strength to drive the ball to the alleys and run."

Barr refrained from establishing a timetable for Brown's ascent to the Majors. Asked whether the 21-year-old would be on a fast track to San Francisco, Barr said, "I think everybody goes at their own pace. We feel like he's going to be a pretty good big league player."

Barr said that the Giants have scouted Brown extensively, since he established himself as a prospect at Diamond Bar High School in Southern California. Barr said that 10 different scouts have evaluated Brown, dating back to high school and including his participation in the Cape Cod League last summer. The A's drafted Brown in the 12th round out of high school, but he declined to sign.

The Giants have drafted pitchers with eight of their last nine first-round choices and 11 of their last 13, but the composition of the talent available prompted San Francisco in a different direction.

"We think there are arms down farther in the Draft we can get who we feel might be pretty good pitchers, whereas the talent pool of position players might be a little bit lighter," Barr said.

Thus, Brown became only the second outfielder drafted by the Giants in the first round in the last 17 years. They also took Dante Powell from Cal State Fullerton in 1994.

This is Brown's first season as a full-time outfielder. He played primarily third base as a sophomore, when he was an All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention. He led the league with seven triples and ranked third with 23 stolen bases and 64 runs.

As a freshman, Brown set Fullerton's record for most stolen bases, going 25-for-28 to pass Powell's record of 16.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }