Padres target shooting guard; sign slugger

Phoenix College guard Ira Brown put up 24 points and 10 rebounds last weekend. This weekend, he posted a different kind of double-double, scoring 27 on the basketball court Saturday, and having a minor-league contract extended to him from the Padres on Sunday.

A day after offering contracts to four players from their weekend tryout, the San Diego Padres confirmed two more players will get invitations to join the organization when minor league camp opens on Sunday. Pitcher Ira Brown, spotted by Mal Fichman in the independent Northern League last suumer, was offered a contract but has been offered several scholarships to play basketball at Division-I programs. The Padres hope to sign him with an agreement that says he can continue his basketball season.

Brown, the starting shooting guard for the Phoenix College basketball team, and big-swinging first baseman Chris Walston, a product of El Capitan High School in Lakeside, join the group initially signed on Monday.

Brown, 23, played parts of four seasons in the Kansas City Royals' organization after being selected in the eighth round out of high school in 2001.

The six-foot four-inch right-hander is an intriguing talent. In 168 innings of work in the low minors, Brown struck out 158, but inconsistent mechanics also led to 135 walks and a 5.01 ERA.

"He's very athletic," said Padre minor league coordinator Bill Bryk. "He's just a thrower now, but he has something to work with."

Walston, 21, adds another power bat to the mix at first base in the lower end of the system. Originally a sixth-round pick by the Angels in 2002, he impressed by launching several tape measure shots in batting practice, and one in a game Saturday.

"He has as much raw power as anyone I've ever seen," said Bryk. "He reminds me of Dave Kingman, just a big guy with monster power."

Unfortunately for Walston, that comparison also extends to his high strikeout totals and low batting average in four years with the Angels' farm clubs.

"He's a work in progress," said Bryk. "But, I'd rather take a chance that he's made adjustments than have him show up somewhere else when we had him in our back yard."


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