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MINOR LEAGUES / GARY KLEIN : August May Be the Month That Matters Most to Filson

August 22, 1993|GARY KLEIN

As the minor league season moves into its final weeks, arms and legs that were strong in April are no longer spry nearing September.

Fatigue resulting from more than 140 games and pregame workouts can make a 34-ounce bat feel like a sledgehammer. Once speedy baserunners feel like they are running in quicksand.

The dog days of August can mean different things to different players. To the designated prospects who were high draft picks, August is only a stage of the regular season, a holding ground until they leave for Florida or Arizona and the fall Instructional Leagues.

But to the vast majority, August is the final chance to solidify or save their position in the organization for the next year. The month is particularly telling for players that were signed as free agents.

Players such as Matt Filson.

Filson, a former standout at El Segundo High and UC Irvine, signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in 1992. An outfielder and designated hitter, he had an impressive rookie season, batting .303 with six homers and 34 runs batted in for Yakima (Wash.) in the Northwest League.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Filson went to spring training hoping for a promotion to Bakersfield in the Class-A California League. He made the team and entered this past weekend's series at Riverside batting .241 with eight homers and 31 runs batted in in 87 games.

Filson, 24, is trying to recover from a month-long slump. A fast finish is probably necessary for a return in the spring.

"It's a constant battle being a free agent and trying to get some notice," Filson said. "Prospects are always going to get the first look, that's just the way it is.

"Sometimes it gets tough, you have to rely on yourself. You can't say, 'Well, if I was drafted things would be different.' You have to just do what you have to do when you get the chance, work hard and create your own breaks."

Filson has experience at taking advantage of opportunities.

After two seasons at Cal State Long Beach, Filson transferred to UC Irvine. He batted .316 as a junior and led the Anteaters in most offensive categories, but was not drafted. As a senior, he batted .272, and was signed as a free agent after the draft.

Filson is hopeful for a promotion to Vero Beach in the Class-A Florida State League next season.

"Every free agent is a longshot," he said. "I'm not worried about what might happen. I just have to take care of business."

*

Jim Bruske, a former standout at Loyola Marymount, has had an excellent season for the Houston Astro organization.

Bruske, an outfielder at Loyola, was converted to a pitcher when he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1986. The Indians released him last year after an arm injury and he has flourished since joining the Astro chain in June of 1992.

Last year, Bruske was 4-3 with a 2.63 earned-run average for Jackson in the double-A Texas League. He began this season at Jackson, but was promoted to triple-A Tucson in July after compiling a 9-5 record and 2.22 ERA.

Bruske is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA and one save in 40 innings for Tucson.

*

Rick Davis, a former standout pitcher at Cal State Dominguez Hills, has had a tough season for Las Vegas, the San Diego Padre affiliate in the triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Davis is 1-7 with a 6.95 earned-run average in 30 appearances. He has given up 80 hits, struck out 20 and walked 26 in 45 1/3 innings.

PCL batters are hitting .394 against him.

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