High Hopes for Sing

West Tenn's Brandon Sing was named the Topps Player of the Month for the Southern League in July. He hit .366 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs to win the honor. It was the second year in a row that Sing claimed the award.

Last season at Daytona, Sing was voted Topps Player of the Month for the Florida State League in June. He hit .348 with nine homers and 29 RBIs to capture the award, and eventually the Daytona Cubs single-season home run record with 32 blasts. (In a cruel twist of irony, Sing broke the club record just months after its previous owner, Ron Walker, died in a car accident in April.)

Sing's record-breaking year deservedly earned him a spot at Double-A to begin 2005. He got off to a strong start, batting .338 in his first 20 games. This is his second stint at Double-A, with the first coming in 2003 when the 6'5", pure power hitter began the year in Jackson and spent roughly a month and a half with the club before being sent to Daytona. He was striken with mono and missed the final two months of the season.

Now, Sing is in the midst of his second straight productive season, although admittedly the month of August has been a bit hard on him after winning accolades for his strong showing in July. In his last 13 games, Sing is 6-for-44 with one home run and two RBIs.

He is quick to note that a similar slump engulfed him last year after winning the Topps monthly award with Daytona.

Sing said, "I'm missing some pitches here and there, and stuff isn't falling in. It's the same thing as last year. I started thinking too much about it and tried to win it again the next month instead of just going out and having fun.

"I'm not worried about it. Everything will start to come together again soon."

Sing isn't the only one struggling. Before winning back-to-back games against the last place Mobile BayBears on Tuesday and Wednesday, West Tenn had lost six in a row, including a four-game sweep at Jacksonville against the red-hot, first place Suns--the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate who has won 12 straight games.

In that series, the Jaxx were outscored 22-7, never scoring more than two runs a game or giving up less than five. Sing finished the series 2-for-9 with no RBIs.

"Nothing was falling our way," Sing said. "Every little thing that could go wrong did gone wrong. It's weird when the breaks don't go your way. It's the same as last year after we won the first half at Daytona. Toward the end of the year, we picked back up because we knew what we had to do. I'm trying to be a second half all-star this year and hope that we recover just as we did a season ago."

In addition to his 32 homers (one shy of the league's all-time record set in 1971), Sing went on to finish 2004 with 94 RBIs and a .270 batting average. Daytona - along with the Tampa Yankees - was crowned co-champions after Hurricane Ivan postponed the league's championship series in September. Sing was named league MVP.

The Joliet native entered this week's series against Mobile with a .287 average, 24 home runs and 65 RBIs. While he'd gladly take a repeat performance of his MVP season a year ago, his main goal heading into 2005 was to prove that '04 was no fluke.

"I want to keep it at a productive year. Last year wasn't just about having a good season, but showing them that I can do this with some consistency."

And that's one reason why Sing has become more versatile this year, manning not only his familiar first base post, but right field as well. He spent most all of 2002 (again with Daytona) as the team's starting left fielder for manager Dave Trembley's squad. The following year at West Tenn, Sing was solely at first base for the first time in his professional career. The tenure did not last very long, as he was sent to Daytona after a 42-game stint. Before he was shut down for the year, it was back to left field with the Cubs' High-A affiliate.

So while this isn't the first time in his career that Sing has played the outfield, it is the first time he's been on the east side of the outfield grass.

And he has high hopes and quite a game plan for Cubs brass.

"I want to be more versatile so I can show them how much I can help," Sing said. "I know that Derrek Lee is already at first, but I'd like to either help him out as a backup or serve in the outfield. I think I have a strong enough arm to play right. Hopefully I'll be on the 40-man roster soon enough so that I can show them I can play the outfield or back up first."

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