by Editor Rick Cabral





The season was on the line for the Stockton Ports. Down 6-2 in the bottom of the ninth and two outs, they threatened with runners on first and second. Up stepped Brandon Pinckney (Elk Grove High/Sac City). The utility player, batting in the DH spot, had gone 0-4 on the night, including a weak fly out to right field in the eighth to fellow Elk Grove native, Casey Weathers.

In all likelihood, if the Ports didn't pull off the comeback, this could be Pinckney's final at bat for the Ports, and quite possibly his last in professional baseball. 

Pinckney started off the season at Reading, the Phillies Double-A Eastern League team. In mid June, the Phils released him, and Pinckney returned to his Elk Grove apartment to ponder his future. A couple weeks later, his agent said the Ports called and wanted to add him to the roster. He jumped at the chance, since Banner Island Ballpark is just 25 minutes from his apartment. 

"They told me when I signed I would play maybe twice a week. I was fine with that," Brandon openly admitted, knowing that at 28, his pro baseball options are limited. "(I figured) I'm close to home. My brothers, aunts and uncles had never seen me play professional ball, so they finally got a chance to come out and see me." 

Pinckney joined the Ports in early July and was relegated to the nine hole in the batting order. In short order, manager Steve Scarsone promoted him to the second spot. In 24 games for the Ports, Pinckney batted .320 and helped his club clinch the second half of the California League's North Division. 

So in bottom of the ninth, when Pinckney came to the plate with 1200 fans cheering and jeering, it  wasn't the largest crowd Brandon had ever played before, but still the pressure was on to deliver. Waiting in the on-deck circle was Grant Green, the A's first round draft selection in 2009 who is having a monster season, hitting .318/20/87. If Pinckney could get on, it would load the bases for Green, the Golden One, who already had three hits on the evening. 

Pinckney slapped a come-backer up the middle. It was deflected by the pitcher toward the charging second baseman, who fielded and threw to first. Pinckney hustled down the baseline and beat the throw for his only hit of the night. 

Green stood in the batter's box, with the bases juiced, waiving his bat with the cool, casual confidence of a highly-touted pro prospect whose future is secure. Green is one of just two Ports players selected to play in the Arizona Fall League, where the elite minor leaguers battle in the desert, and he projects to be an A's starter in the near term.  

Battling through two pitches, Green smashed a line drive down the third base line, and surely would have driven in two runs and possibly three, but it was snagged by the Nuts' third baseman to end the game. 

The Modesto Nuts won two games to clinch the first round of the playoffs, and now the Ports can cover the chaise lounge chairs in the Jackson Rancheria Back Porch, as their season is over. 

What does the future hold for Brandon Pinckney? He'll do as he's done the past two years and work out in the offseason while waiting for his agent to call with an offer to show up at some spring training site. Over eight seasons and more than 2800 at bats, Pinckney compiled a respectable .280 lifetime average for 11 different minor league teams.  

Don Lyle, the Indians scout who signed Brandon out of Sac City College in 2003, said if Pinckney doesn't play again, he has a future in coaching. "Brandon is a real ballplayer and one of my all-time favorites."  

For Brandon Pinckney, it's wait-and-see.