Brewers centerfielder Brady Clark is the ultimate late bloomer. Signed by the Reds as a nondrafted free agent in 1996, he didn't play in a professional game until he was 23. After four years in the minors he was called up to the majors. Now, at 32, Clark is an every-day player for the first time in his big league career--and he's thriving as the replacement for Scott Podsednik, who was traded to the White Sox in December. Batting leadoff, Clark has been an indispensable table-setter, ranking first in the league in runs scored (34) and tied for fifth in batting (.339) through Sunday. Says Clark, "It helps playing every day."
Clark has developed a reputation as a perfectionist with his work ethic and attention to detail. Last year he was convinced that one of the bats he had received in a new shipment was off by an ounce, so he brought in a small scale to weigh each bat. Indeed, one was about an ounce too heavy. Clark is usually the first Milwaukee player to arrive at the ballpark, heading for the batting cage to refine his swing before a game. Says manager Ned Yost, "He's one of the most focused players I've ever seen."
RICK STEWART/GETTY IMAGES (CLARK)