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Darren Ford

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Darren Scott Ford

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Darren Ford is a professional baseball outfielder who made his debut with the San Francisco Giants on September 1, 2010.

Ford was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 18th round, 526th overall, in the 2004 amateur draft as a draft-and-follow pick out of high school. After a year of junior college, he was signed by scout Tony Blengino and began his professional career in 2005, playing for the Rookie-level Helena Brewers. In 61 games that year, he hit .271/.365/.326 with one home run, 24 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 22 tries. He scored 57 runs, almost one a game. One big problem was his strikeout rate, as he whiffed in 70 of 236 AB. He was only two runs behind Pioneer League leader Rusty Ryal. Baseball America named him the fastest baserunner in Milwaukee's farm chain prior to 2006.

In 2006, he played in 125 games for the A-level West Virginia Power, hitting .283/.361/.387 with seven home runs, 54 RBI and 69 stolen bases while being thrown out running 15 times. He scored 93 runs and struck out in 133 of 491 AB. His 289 putouts led South Atlantic League outfielders. He ranked second in the South Atlantic League in stolen bases, behind only Eric Young Jr.'s 87; in fact, Young was the only player in all of minor league baseball to swipe more bases that year. Unlike Young, Ford did not rank in the top five in the minors in times caught stealing.

Ford spent the winter with the North Shore Honu, producing at a .208/.300/.311 rate but stealing 14 bases in 17 tries and scoring 20 times in 28 games. He tied Young for second in Hawaii Winter Baseball in steals, 6 behind leader Nyjer Morgan, and tied Paco Figueroa for third in runs scored.

He split the 2007 season between West Virginia and the Brevard County Manatees, hitting a combined .278 with nine home runs, 123 strikeouts, 60 RBI and 67 stolen bases. He had been excellent with the Power (.335/.398/.504, 31 SB in 41 tries, 48 runs in 51 games) but struggled with the higher-A Manatees (.231/.317/.308, 36 SB in 42 tries, 46 runs in 72 games). He led Milwaukee farmhands in swipes and tied Pedro Powell for 4th in the affiliated minors, trailing Ovandy Suero, Young and Emmanuel Burriss. Despite only spending half the year with Brevard County, he finished third in the Florida State League in stolen bases. Had he qualified, he would have been second in the South Atlantic League in average behind Andrew Lefave.

He began the 2008 season with the Manatees and again performed poorly, hitting .230/.322/.303 with 48 stolen bases in 59 attempts. On July 20, he was traded to the Giants with fellow minor leaguer Steve Hammond for Ray Durham. He finished the season with the San Jose Giants, batting .219/.346/.266 in 38 games for them with 14 steals in 15 tries. He hit a combined .227 with two home runs, 34 RBI, 130 strikeouts and 62 stolen bases that season. Baseball America rated him the fastest baserunner in the FSL; despite being traded in midseason, he was only 3 steals behind league leader Quintin Berry and led all Mariners farmhands. He tied Andrew Romine and Derrick Robinson for third in the affiliated minors in stolen bases, trailing only Everth Cabrera and Freddy Guzman. The speedster then played in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

With the San Jose Giants in 2009, Ford found his stroke at the plate, as he batted .300/.386/.463 with nine triples, nine home runs, 50 RBI, 81 runs and 35 stolen bases in 47 tries. He was 9th in the California League in OBP, tied for 9th in triples and 4th in stolen bases. He was then added to the Giants' 40-man roster.

In 2010, Ford hit .251/.315/.365 with 9 triples and 37 steals in 52 tries for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. With the Eastern League season almost over, he was leading in triples and was second to Darin Mastroianni in steals. Ford was charged with filing a false report in July 2010 over an incident from the previous off-season when Ford told police he was held up by gun-point while transporting a deposit bag from a car dealership at which he worked to the local bank.

In his MLB debut, Ford entered as a pinch-runner at first in a 1-1 Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Tim Lincecum duel. Ford advanced to second on a bunt-and-run, took third on a wild pitch Miguel Olivo kept in front of him, and scored when Olivo's throw went into left field for the Giants' 2-1 win. He got into 7 games in all during the Giants' successful pennant chase, spending two innings in one game in center field, and the rest of his time as a pinch runner. He was successful in 2 of 3 stolen base attempts, but did not have a plate appearance.

He is the grandson of outfielder Ted Ford.

Sources include 2009 Giants Media Guide, 2006-2009 Baseball Almanacs, Hawaii Winter Baseball, MILB.com

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