Brown makes mark but leaves game
Phillies' top prospect says sore hamstring isn't a problem
ANAHEIM -- Domonic Brown flashed a smile and said the three words every Phillies fan wanted to hear Sunday:
"I'm good, guys."
Brown left the All-Star Futures Game in the first inning at Angel Stadium because of a mildly strained right hamstring. That is the official terminology of the injury, according to Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar. But the Phillies and Brown seem to think it is less severe. Brown said he simply felt some tightness coming out of the batter's box on an infield single, and that he did not want to push it.
Brown said he will be ready to play Thursday when Triple-A Lehigh Valley resumes its season.
Brown, whose single scored the U.S. Team's first run in a 9-1 victory over the World Team, is a big deal for the Phillies.
He's huge, actually.
Consider for a second the talent the Phillies have traded in recent seasons to get Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and Brad Lidge: Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Travis d'Arnaud, Jason Knapp, Michael Bourn, Josh Outman, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Adrian Cardenas, Mike Costanza and Matt Spencer.
Brown remains because the Phillies see something extraordinary in him. They see the heir apparent to Jayson Werth in right field or Raul Ibanez in left field. They see somebody who can be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter for years to come, complementing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
"He has very good hand-eye coordination," LaMar said recently. "I think when he does play in the Major Leagues, you're going to see a hitter that's capable of playing against left-handed pitching. Maybe not right off the bat, but as his career unfolds you're not going to have a guy that platoons. You're going to have an everyday player. He goes to the opposite field, and he has power to the opposite field, which is very good at our ballpark. I think he'll fit at our ballpark well."
Brown hit .318 (75-for-236) with 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .993 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with Double-A Reading before earning a promotion to Lehigh Valley. In his first 15 games with the IronPigs, he hit .365 (20-for-55) with four homers, 12 RBIs and a 1.026 OPS.
"I'm happy with the year," Brown said. "I'm still improving in some areas where I need to improve, but I'm impressed with how I've been progressing. But there's still a lot of work to be done. I think I've handled the offspeed pitches pretty well. I've always been pretty good with that. It hasn't been that big of adjustment for me yet."
Brown has been so good in Triple-A that it is fair to ask whether he could help the Phillies this season. The Phillies are exploring the trade market for Werth, and Ibanez's .733 OPS is the lowest of his career since 2000.
There could be room for him to play, depending how things break for the Phillies.
But Brown is not in a hurry.
He knows how long it took Howard, Utley and Werth to become everyday players. He said their journeys to the big leagues helped him understand the importance of patience. Being rushed to the Majors isn't always a good thing.
"You've got to be patient," Brown said. "You talk about moving up. That's not a big thing at all. I thought I might have been in Double-A the whole year. I don't know. That's just how I look at things. I'm in Triple-A, so I'm having fun. I'm enjoying my time. It's not a hard thing. I've watched guys who've already come through the system. It took those guys time, so why can't I wait?
"It's not a rush for me at all, man. I see some guys, they come here, they get drafted high and talk about how they're going to be in the big leagues the next year. I'm like, it doesn't work like that. I just know reality. I know what's going on."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently the only thing Brown needs at this point is experience.
But Brown knows he is close.
"I've been tasting it," he said.
It could come this season. If not, it almost certainly will happen in 2011. Either way, Brown expects to be ready.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.