Bourn evolving into star player

Bourn evolving into star player

ST. LOUIS -- Astros center fielder Michael Bourn has followed up his breakout 2009 campaign with a strong start to the '10 season.

Bourn hit .285 with 61 stolen bases and won a National League Gold Glove Award for his impressive work in the field last season, after hitting .229 and stealing 41 bags a year earlier in his first season in Houston.

The left-handed-hitting leadoff hitter, who came into Thursday's series finale at Busch Stadium with a .379 batting average, extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the sixth inning. He had two hits in each of his past three games and four out of his past five.

"And really, just not his hitting, [but] how he's playing defense," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "The play he made to get out of the first inning yesterday was outstanding. You do those and you put together what he's doing offensively at the top of the order, and that's a pretty special player. He's just continuing to evolve into that special leadoff hitter."

Astros general manager Ed Wade selected Bourn in the fourth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, when he was the Phillies' GM, and then traded for him after he was hired in Houston. He knew Bourn just needed an opportunity to show what he was capable of.

"We gave him a lot of playing time," Wade said on Thursday. "In 2008, you could see the offensive potential was there. The defense was always there. He's got what I term baseball's version of world-class speed, whether it's on the bases or running balls down defensively. He's got a chance to be a really good player for a long time, because he understands what he's capable of doing and he's using his assets to the fullest at this point."