Taking a page from their cross-bay rivals, the Giants made a deal Sunday, sending Ray Durham to the Brewers for two prospects.
Here's a closer look at the players the Giants received:
Steve Hammond, LHP: The southpaw is a 2005 sixth-round selection out of Long Beach State and, for a while, appeared to be on the fast track to Milwaukee. But his development seems to have slowed over the last 18 months, particularly in the six weeks since he was promoted to Triple-A Nashville.
Hammond is 0-4 with a 7.41 ERA in four starts since getting bumped up to the Pacific Coast League, despite allowing only one run over six innings in his initial start with the Sounds. He's pitched only 11 innings in his last three starts, not lasting more than four in any of the outings. He's allowed 13 earned runs and five homers. While the 26-year-old has struck out 16 over that stretch, he's also allowed 17 hits and walked five.
Hammond began the season at Double-A Huntsville, his third year in the Southern League. He was 7-4 with a 3.45 ERA with the Stars but was somewhat inconsistent. He pitched two brilliant games at the beginning of June, allowing no earned runs over 13 1/3 innings against West Tennessee and Jacksonville but followed that with a 5 2/3-inning outing (his shortest in more than two months) while suffering the loss in his final start with Huntsville.
Overall, he was 19-19 with a 4.06 ERA in 57 Southern League starts dating back to 2006, the season that many considered a breakout year for Hammond. He began that campaign in the Florida State League but was bumped up to Huntsville after going 6-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 14 starts with Brevard County.
His command and repertoire seemed to suffer last year after he spent the winter adding on to his 6-foot-2 frame. He worked out religiously in the winter prior to the 2007 season and the bulk seemed to have sapped him of his flexibility.
Hammond, who also was largely ineffective in seven Arizona Fall League appearances last season, needs to demonstrate that he can compete at a higher level like the PCL. Otherwise, there will continue to be speculation that he might be better suited as a reliever.
Darren Ford, OF: The former 18th-rounder (2004) from Chipola Junior College has had a career that in many ways mirrors that of Hammond. He was hot early and grabbed the attention of the Brewers brass after hitting .335 in half a season at West Virginia of the South Atlantic League last spring. What some didn't consider was that it was his second season in the Sally League -- he hit .283 over a full season there in 2006.
Still, he was promoted to the Florida State League last June and has hit .231 in 616 at-bats since. What he lacks in ability to get on base (his OBP is .322 this season and was .317 in the FSL last year) he makes up for once he's on base. Ford has remarkable speed. He's second in all of Minor League Baseball with 48 steals (caught 11 times) and has 202 in what amounts to four seasons of pro ball.
Ford has fanned 88 times this season, however, and has 414 strikeouts in 1,567 at-bats (once every 3.7 ABs). He won't turn 23 until October, but at this point still seems as if he's more project than projectable. If he can figure out how to bunt a little more and keep the ball on the ground, he might have more of a future. Otherwise, he runs the risk of becoming Esix Snead.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.