“Just past 10 o’clock on a warm summer evening in the Lehigh Valley, Domonic Brown stood in front of his locker wearing compression shorts and a sheepish grin.
“It’s humbling,” the long, lean outfielder said with a shake of the head. “I’m 22 years old and in Triple A.”
For now, he says again and again and again, that is good enough for him. Less than an hour before, he had finished off another one of those games that serves as sort of a living checklist for the front-office personnel who drool at his potential.
Arm? In the top of the fifth, he fielded a single off the wall in rightfield and threw a laser to second base, where a stunned Juan Apodaca had yet to even begin his slide into the bag.
Power? In the bottom half of the frame, he drilled a two-run homer over the 400-foot sign in dead centerfield.
Contact? His first of four RBI came on a sacrifice fly. His last came on a two-strike groundout to shortstop that drove in the go-ahead run.
Speed? He almost beat out the aformentioned groundout.
But there is another tool that has the Phillies organization buzzing almost as much as the .405 batting average, 1.197 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging), four home runs and 11 RBI that Brown posted in his first 12 games at Triple A. It is a tool that provided some of the basis for Ruben Amaro Jr.’s statement yesterday that the lefthanded-hitting outfielder could be a candidate for a big-league promotion this season. And it is the first tool that newly called-up infielder Cody Ransom pinpointed when asked about his brief time with Brown at Triple A.
“He’s got a good head on him,” said Ransom, who was with the IronPigs when Brown was called up 2 weeks ago. “He was raised right, it seems like. People get on him all the time, but he takes it all in stride.”
The Phillies saw it in spring training, when Brown quietly went about his business with none of the chutzpah typically associated with a kid ranked by scouts as one of the game’s top prospects. He ended the spring with a flurry, hitting two homers in his Grapefruit League finale, one of them off flame-throwing Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
Folks in Lehigh Valley have seen it over the last 2 weeks. Brown speaks like a player fine-tuning himself for the next level. His big goal, he says, is to take better swings when ahead in the count. The Phillies are impressed with the way he has improved his route-running in the outfield, and he has shown remarkable polish in two of the more bedeviling aspects of a lefthanded pro: hitting opposing lefties, and hitting with two strikes.
“He does something every game, at least one thing, that’s a little wild,” Ransom said.”