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Domonic Brown may finally get his chance

Mar 8, 2013, 8:15 PM EDT

Domonic Brown AP

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, amid all of his wheeling and dealing over the years, had one hard and fast rule: hands off Domonic Brown. Amaro traded for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence, completely depleting his team’s farm system but for one player. Brown was rated the #4 overall prospect by Baseball America entering the 2011 season, but the outfielder suffered a hamate fracture in his right hand early in spring training. When he finally returned, his power was gone — the lefty hit just five home runs in 209 plate appearances at the Major League level between May 21 and July 29. Brown was demoted to the Minors at the end of July but his fortune did not improve.

Brown began the 2012 season in the Minors as Amaro wanted his outfielder to get regular playing time, rather than irregular and unpredictable playing time in an outfield that at the time included Pence and Shane Victorino. Brown was finally given his shot at the end of July, but did not impress in the final two months of the season, hitting just .235 with five home runs. Amaro, once thought to be wise to hold on to Brown, now looked foolish for failing to maximize the value of his once top prospect while others, such as Travis d’Arnaud and Jonathan Singleton, thrived in other organizations.

ESPN’s Keith Law suggested that it takes 12-18 months for a player to recover his power after suffering a hamate bone injury. The end of the 2012 season marked 18 months, effectively meaning that Brown’s failure at the plate going forward could not be blamed on his injury any longer. The spring competition for two corner outfield jobs marked Brown’s final chance, at least in the Phillies organization. If he could not beat John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, and Darin Ruf for one of two outfield vacancies, he could not beat anybody.

Brown, thus far, has been up to the task and is viewed as the early favorite to earn an everyday spot in the outfield. In 33 spring at-bats, Brown is hitting .424 with a team-high three home runs. He has also walked more times than he has struck out (six to five), displaying his trademark eagle eye at the plate. His 13 runs scored leads all spring training participants while his six walks ranks fourth. Perhaps most impressively, his defense has looked cleaner. He is still no Gold Glover out there, but an off-season of work and a clean bill of health appear to have given Brown ample time to improve his biggest weakness.

Delmon Young is expected to take over right field on an everyday basis when he returns from an ankle injury, but Brown could man right field in his absence. He would then shift over to left upon Young’s return. Brown’s other competitors aren’t faring so well this spring. Ruf is hitting .200 and has looked completely lost in the outfield. Mayberry is hitting .250. Nix is hitting .111. The stars seem to be, at long last, in alignment for Brown, the victim of so much adversity early in his Major League career. And there may be no one happier about this development than Amaro.

  1. yardleyphils - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    I hope for the teams sake, Dominic’s sake, and RAJ’s sake that it finally works out

  2. proudlycanadian - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Good news for the Phillies. This puts their Doom Watch on hold for now.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Would that be a Doom Pause then?

      • mayortito - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:22 PM

        i guess we can get these guys to move back the clock.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        Well, I wouldn’t mess with that technology. That’s the kind of thing that leads to tears in the fabric of time and disruptions in the force and whatnot.

  3. illegalblues - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    i would not be surprised to see dom wind up being the phil’s best position player by the end of the season.

  4. paul621 - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    “there may be no one happier about this development than Amaro.”

    What about Brown? I’m gonna bet Brown’s happier.

    • gmfw7 - Mar 11, 2013 at 6:20 AM

      you’d think that, right? funny thing though…he did an interview with glen macnow and anthony gargano the other week, and i swear i thought macnow was gonna say, “are you out of your mind, kid”? a few times. when asked about his struggles the last few seasons and looking at this year as a “make it or break it” type year, he answered that he wasn’t worried. when asked about his problems in the outfield, he said he didn’t have any. when asked about playing well enough to stick at the major league level, he said he didn’t care is he was sent down to AAA. he sounded like a perennial all-star instead of a bust prospect (can’t really call him a bust since he was a 20th round pick). i have been a big supporter of brown, but the interview was infuriating. he also referred to himself in the 3rd person several times, which is just obnoxious. that being said, i hope he has a monster year that we all think he’s capable of.

  5. garryjercia - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    I’m still thinking they paid Young $600k just to light a fire under Dom’ butt. Ill take Mayberry over Young any day.

    • dwdive - Mar 9, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      either way, it’s still a good low risk high reward signing. Both Uptons were high risk, and I think both with disappoint the Braves short term and long term

  6. dwdive - Mar 9, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Still wondering how RAJ depleted the farm system? Who did he give up that turned out to even be a starting player in the bigs? Seriously, I keep hearing about how “gave up the farm”, but basically none of the players he traded away are even contributing to team in any way. Stop it already… In hindsight, I would make every single trade RAJ made again, no question

    • tuberippin - Mar 9, 2013 at 2:33 AM

      I would not have traded Cliff Lee to Seattle for Philippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:10 AM

        Actually, they traded 1 year of Cliff Lee for those three

      • tuberippin - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        I hope that isn’t implying that you would have rather had three prospects who are toolsy but none of whom even crack the Phils top 20 than an extra season of a Lee/Hamels/Halladay?

  7. dwdive - Mar 9, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    Not to mention, he flipped Pence for another Catcher that may be better than d’Anaud, Joseph is hitting ridiculous in spring training right now, and Singleton was behind Howard and Ruf. See, the writers never tell you anything about the guys he got in return for trades, we will finally see a player contribute in the bullpen this year that he got in the 1st Lee trade.

    • paperlions - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      First, Singleton was NEVER behind Ruf, who scouts have never considered a prospect….and still don’t.

      Second, Joseph simply has not developed as a hitter….at all. Yeah, he’s still only 21, but he hasn’t really hit at any level, though he gets great reviews for his defense now. There is a close to 0% chance he turns out better than d’Arnaud….but Joseph is better at staying healthy so far.

      Third, the problem is that they traded the guys they had and have failed to replace them with viable options through the draft. The Cardinals (as an example) traded all of their decent prospects a few years ago, too….but they have drafted and developed will to replace those guys and more. Trading away prospects isn’t a bad thing, but failing to draft/develop well to keep the pipeline flowing is…and the Phillies have failed to do that the last few years.

  8. 80fightins08 - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    The Seattle – Lee deal was bad. It doesn’t lesson the blow just because we signed him as a free agent. I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet whatever Seattle got for Lee was better than what they gave up.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 9, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      It lessens the blow that they signed him in Free Agency.

      They gave him up for 2010 to get those three guys. And in 2010, they won the division – and lost in a 6 games series in which they gave up 19 runs (i.e. pitching was not the problem). I suppose you could argue that had they not traded Lee, they would not have needed to trade for Oswalt. But all the means is you would have had J.A. Happ and Anthony Gose, instead of Aumont and Gillies.

      As for what Seattle got for Lee – first off it wasn’t stratight up, seattle also gave a quality reliever to Texas. After that, the other 3 were maybe a nudge ahead of what the Phillies got from Seatle, but again, seattle gave up more then the Phillies gave up

  9. fireplug66 - Mar 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    I said it before Spring Training & I’ll say it again, D. Brown will be the “Surprise” player that helps propel the Phillies back to the top of the NL East & eventually a WS berth!!!
    I’ll leave some suspense and won’t say if they’ll win just yet!!! The people who’ve been on Brown just don’t know Baseball! They are ready to throw him under the Bus on the basis of a very small Major League sample!?!?!? You don’t get ranked #4 prospect by accident. People also are writing off the Phils, just 1 year removed from a Franchise Record 102 wins. I see Brown hitting .309 w/28HR & 111RBI, that along with the “Old Men” playing to their career averages will bring the Pennant home where it belongs!!!

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