The Giants began the season with two rookie righthanders in their rotation: unheralded Ryan Jensen and 1999 first-round draft pick Kurt Ainsworth, the jewel of the farm system for the past three years. Because of a roster crunch in late April, one of them had to be demoted. Figuring that Jensen was better suited for bullpen duty if necessary, San Francisco sent Ainsworth to Triple A Fresno.
It turned out to be a wise choice. Jensen (10-6, 4.16 ERA through Sunday), an eighth-round pick in '96 who had mixed success in six minor league seasons, has been the team's best starter. He leads the Giants in victories and is their first rookie in 12 years to win 10 games. The 26-year-old Jensen relies on a 90-mph fastball that has excellent late movement and changes speeds with pinpoint control. The Giants also like his composure: In five starts against NL West rivals Arizona and Los Angeles, he's 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA. "He gets his breaking ball over whenever he wants," says one NL advance scout. "He's not going to overpower you, but at the end of the game, you look up and somehow you went 0 for 4."