Tim Brown plans to power through 2007

It is hard to find fault with a .299 California League average after spending the previous year in the Independent Leagues. But, Tim Brown has questions because he is a first baseman in the San Diego Padres' system. He plans on answering this year.

For a player that drubbed 37 doubles, reached base at a .427 clip and drew nearly as many walks (79) as strikeouts (90) retooling seems a far from ideal situation.

Tim Brown went into the off-season understanding one thing – he needed to add more consistent power and up his 10 homers closer to 20 for him to be considered a premier prospect.

History, however, tells us that Brown tried to add more power to his game in the past and it was met with less than ideal results.

Originally a 12th-round pick by the Pirates in the 2001 MLB Draft, Brown was tasked with swinging for the fences and tapping into the power of his 6-foot-3 frame. He wasn't ready to make such a transition and ended up suffering before eventually being released.

Understanding the situation better, Brown is tempered with his enthusiasm for the coming year.

"It is going well," Brown said of his renewed approach. "I am getting rolling and trying to work on a few things. I was able to work out and get ready for this year.

He has altered his swing – not necessary adding lift but pulling some tricks to gain farther flight on the ball. After all, his line drive swing did so much last year that he – and the Padres – doesn't want to change too much.

Instead, the focus is on follow through at the crack of the bat and continuing to be smart in his approach.

"I am working on it right now – it is a work in progress, it always is. It is not lift. You never try and create lift. It is more of backspin and getting the ball to go further. It is repetition and a lot of practice.

"I think it is more of a mental adjustment I have to make. It isn't necessarily a swing or a pitch recognition type thing. It is patience and approach to the ball that I have to take."

The preparation for this season may have been more telling. Brown put on a little weight as he worked hard to get stronger. The goal, of course, is to stay strong as the season wears on.

While the numbers may not indicate it – he hit .333 in July and .340 in August – Brown felt like he wasn't at full strength and could have done even better.

Defensively, Brown continues to take pride in his ability to lift up his teammates. He has never been mobile or agile – although he worked on becoming more than a falldown defender this past off-season – but he is very adept around the first base bag, particularly at picking balls out of the dirt.

Since he will be splitting time with Michael Johnson, Brown understands this is a facet of his game that can't afford a letdown, particularly in the Double-A Texas League.

"It is something I take a lot of pride in," Brown said of handling errant throws. "To be able to pick up a guy on your team and save him from getting an error and saving your team. I take a lot of pride in that because that is one thing I can control over at first base. It is something I work on and something I have been blessed with the ability to do."

The 2007 season will, however, be judged on his ability to send more frequent balls out of the park.


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