Downtown Dom Brown (USAT)In a time not long ago, Domonic Brown was considered a pretty big deal. The Phillies outfielder cracked Baseball America's prospect list in 2009 (checking in at No. 48), and he was the fourth-best prospect in BA prior to the 2011 season (behind the heavy metal of Harper, Trout and Montero). Future stardom was predicted and expected.
Just two years later, Brown is a somewhat-forgotten commodity, a name for the post-hype sleeper list. That's how it so often goes with this prospecting game. We build them up and we toss them aside; we spit venom and vitriol if they don't immediately pan out.
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To be fair, Brown hasn't done much in bits and pieces of MLB playing time over the past three years. Over 147 games and 433 at-bats, he's posted a mediocre .236/.315/.388 line, with 12 homers and five steals. Tune-up stints in the minors haven't gone much better. His defense has been a problem at times, and manager Charlie Manuel hasn't been a Brown proponent. When the Phillies signed Delmon Young to a much-criticized deal over the winter, it in part reflected the organization not trusting Brown.
Alas, the dominoes have started to fall Brown's way this spring. Young has as bum ankle and hasn't been playing; it's believed he'll be on the disabled list to start the season. Meanwhile, Brown's play has been terrific. He's off to a 16-for-37 start through 14 games, with three homers and six walks. It slashes out to a robust .432/.523/.730, and he's also scored 15 runs (tops in the majors). Brown appears to be a lock to start on opening day, and Manuel recently called Brown "the biggest bright spot in camp." The leash might not be long with Brown, but he'll at least get a chance to audition.
If you want to play Brown apologist for the past couple of years, you can point to the medical file. Brown dealt with thumb and knee problems in 2012, and a broken hand wrecked his 2011 season in spring training. He's still just 25. Maybe it's time for the light to go on for this talented kid. A healthy season could go a long way.
Brown is currently unowned in 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and his ADP stands at 241. Anyone feel like kicking the tires on some plausible upside? Grab a cheese steak, gamers, and let's discuss this in the comments. I concede that spring training results often don't mean a thing, but when someone's battling for a starting job, we have to take a closer look.
Before you're dismissed, here's Brandon Funston dropping some video fantasy knowledge. Get out the notebook; there may be a quiz later.