After watching him for 30+ major league games this season, I'm wondering if he will ever play consistent baseball?
Building from within
Many players are considered to have major league potential. While his parent club was facing the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees in the World Series, Brown was being loudly touted as part of the next generation of Phillies' stars.
After a decent season in Single-A ball in 2008, the Florida native produced a good year while playing in both Single-A and Double-A in 2009. He hit .299, had an .880 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage), hit 14 home runs, had 64 RBI's, and stole 23 bases.
In 2010, while playing in both Double-A and Triple-A, he hit .327, had a .980 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage), hit 20 home runs, had 68 RBI's, and stole 17 bases. He only hit .210 during a late-season call-up that year, but at 23-years-old he fully retained his high upside potential heading into 2011. Then, he broke the hamate bone in his right hand in spring training. After returning to action, he produced mixed results in Triple-A and in Philadelphia.
His 2012 Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' performance was very encouraging. Like everyone, I noticed that he was taking smart at bats and playing soundly in the field when I saw him in Allentown this summer. It seemed as though Brown was back on track.
Consistency must be demonstrated
Most players never make it to the major leagues. Those who do must demonstrate some type of consistency to keep their jobs. Brown hasn't done that yet.
I used the word 'yet' in the last paragraph because he's proven that he can remain focused during minor league seasons. Possibly, he's the type of player who needs extended development time at each level?
Considering the future size of the Phillies' payroll, the availability of other major league options, and the potential that some of the team's minor league outfielders have shown this season, 2013 could be Brown's last shot to secure a spot in this organization.
Unless a willing trade partner unexpectedly requests (or accepts) him in an offseason deal and as long as he remains healthy, Brown seems certain to get a full-season opportunity to be a starting outfielder for the Phillies next season. Right field could be where he settles, but that will depend upon who general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is able to acquire in the offseason.
The Phillies don't need Brown to become a star next season, they just need him to be dependable. My question is: Will this seventh-year professional always find himself playing somewhere between the hype of the past and the reality of what he's actually capable of producing?
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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