Former Tider Downs Moves Up To Giants

Former University of Alabama third baseman Matt Downs made his Major League debut for the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday and then recorded his first career hit with a 2-for-4 performance on Wednesday afternoon against the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim.

Matt Downs, 25, was drafted in the 36th round in 2006 out of Alabama. He is the fourth member of the Crimson Tide's 2006 SEC Championship squad to reach the big leagues in the last two seasons, joining pitchers David Robertson (New York Yankees), Tommy Hunter (Texas Rangers) and Wade LeBlanc (San Diego Padres).

Downs hit .290 (81-for-279) with seven home runs and 67 RBI in his 80-game career at UA, with the majority of his playing time coming as a senior in 2006. He hit ..298 (75-for-252) with seven home runs and 62 RBI in leading UA to the NCAA Super Regionals against North Carolina. He scored 52 runs and added six stolen bases and 16 doubles for the Tide.

Downs was the Giants starting second baseman on Tuesday and Wednesday and is 2-for-6 (.333) with one run scored and one walk in his first two games.

"We felt we needed more offense here right now," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after Tuesday's game. "(Matt) is a hard-nosed player."

Downs made his Major League debut on Tuesday in an 8-1 loss to the Angles. He was 0-for-3 with a walk in his debut. He came back on Wednesday with two-hit game, including his first career big league hit in the third inning off Matt Palmer.

He was hitting .288 (61-for-212) with six home runs and 38 RBI in 54 games for the Fresno (Calif.) Grizzlies in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League before his promotion on Tuesday.

He hit .294 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 131 games at Single-A San Jose (California League) and Fresno last season. Downs was named to the 2008 California League postseason All-Star team after hitting .304 with 17 homers, 75 RBIs and 24 steals in 109 games at San Jose.

Downs was named Northwest League Most Valuable Player after batting .338 with eight homers, 48 RBIs and 16 steals in 73 games at short-season Salem-Keizer (Oregon) in 2007. He made his professional debut in the Arizona League during the 2006 season and batted .310 with 16 doubles and 29 RBI in 46 games.

Prior to signing with Alabama, Downs spent one year at Shelton State Community College after a brilliant high school career at Bibb County High School in Centreville, where he played in two state championship games, winning the 4A state title in 2001.

Overall, Downs is the 11th former Jim Wells player to reach the Major Leagues, including Tim Young (Montreal Expos, 1998), Dustan Mohr (Minnesota Twins, 2001), Lance Cormier (Arizona Diamondbacks, 2004), Andy Phillips (New York Yankees, 2004), Paul Phillips (Kansas City Royals, 2004), Taylor Tankersley (Florida Marlins, 2006), Jeremy Brown (Oakland Athletics, 2006), Robertson, Hunter and LeBlanc.

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