So far this spring the biggest question mark has been who is going to play right field. It seemed to be Domonic Brown’s job to lose. He is the prized prospect who was labeled “untradeable” when the Phillies traded for Doc Halladay at the end of the 2009 season. Brown’s numbers through less than two weeks of play read 0-15 with 9 strikeouts! He has an OBP of .167 and looks lost out there. Yes I know it’s early and may be too soon to panic but still the question arises: Is Domonic Brown overrated? Will Brown live up to the hype that has surrounded him since the Phillies drafted him in 2006.
Nicknamed the “Total Package” by Ryan Howard during the 2010 Spring Training it seemed as if Brown’s road to the big leagues was taking its course. He began the 2010 regular season in Reading where he batted .318, with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 15 home runs, and 47 RBIs in 65 games. On June 25th he was promoted to triple-A to join the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He got off to a hot start with the Iron Pigs until being slowed down by a hamstring injury in the All-Star Futures Game.
After an injury to center fielder Shane Victorino Brown got his call up to the big league club on July 28th. The Phillies brass were so ready for the Dom Brown experience to begin that Jayson Werth’s name kept coming up in trade rumors. Brown had torched double-A and triple-A pitchers for a combined 20 homeruns, and 68 RBIs in 93 games between Reading and Lehigh Valley.
During his 35 games with the Phillies in 2010 Brown hit .210 with 2 homeruns and 13 RBIs. Not the kind of splash we had expected. It didn’t help that his ABs were very limited once Victorino returned. It is hard for any batter to get in a groove when they are busy keeping the bench warm. After such lofty expectations from our #1 prospect it was definitely a disappointment. Brown’s attempt to play winter ball in the Dominican didn’t help his case either.
So what do we make of Dom the Bomb? It is clear that Brown cannot handle high fastballs in the Major Leagues. Brown’s uppercut of a swing cannot get around fast enough to catch up to the heat. He has attempted to lower his hands and rearrange his stance this spring but to no avail thus far. He just cannot seem to adjust to Major League pitching.
Going into Spring Training no one talked higher on Domonic Brown than skipper Charlie Manuel. He was excited to get into camp and give Brown the ABs and time he needs to see what he is capable of. During an interview with WIP in January Manuel said he thought that Brown had tried too hard to impress people last year and that his hands kept getting higher in his stance. One thing Brown has tried to correct this spring.
The positive remains that Brown is only 23-years old. There is still plenty or reason to believe that he can and will be a star on the Major League level. It just seems that the more proven big league player in Ben Francisco will be roaming right field come April 1st. Francisco leads the team in RBIs with 5 and AVG with .375. He also has a slugging percentage of .750 so far this spring. The plus side with Cisco is that he is a righty in a lefty strong lineup.
So I believe that it’s too early to give up on our future right fielder. He will be a star on the Major League level for years to come; it just going to take some patience on the Phillies end and on our end as phans. It’s kind of like the angry Sixer phans calling Evan Tuner a bust before the mid-way mark of the season. The upside for Brown is tremendous and his ceiling is through the roof. He may not be able to contribute in 2011 but let’s not count Domonic Brown out yet. Overrated? Not at all, underachieving? I’d say 0-15 so far this spring will answer that question. It’s like our great skipper Charlie once said.
“You never know ... You stay with it until the end. It's like Yogi Berra said, it ain't over until it's over and the fat lady sings.”
The fat lady has not sung on Domonic Browns career just yet!