PHILADELPHIA -- From the moment Domonic Brown joined the Phillies as a 20th-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, he has had a healthy supply of confidence.
That changed in July.
He had been playing fairly regularly for the Phillies, hitting .246 (45-for-183) with 10 doubles, one triple, five homers and 19 RBIs in 54 games, when they acquired Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros on July 29. The Phillies optioned Brown to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he moved from right field to left field. He hit just .227 (20-for-92) with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs in 30 games with Lehigh Valley, struggling to play his new position and hearing boos from the fans in his hometown ballpark.
Brown, whom the Phillies recalled following Friday's game against St. Louis, said it was the first time he has had a crisis of confidence.
"It was tough, man," he said. "It was tough for me. I don't know, man. I was having fun. The numbers just weren't there. For the first time, the confidence level wasn't what it usually is. A new position, struggling out there. I really wasn't used to that at all. It was very different. Very different. The good thing was that we were winning, so that kept me up, kept me around the guys and kept me alive."
The Phillies have acknowledged they did Brown no favors bringing him up last season and having him sit on the bench and bringing him up before he was ready this season.
"I think he's still progressing," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he's had a different year. When we brought Domonic to the Majors Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and I sat in my office and discussed it. We knew that more than likely he needed experience. We knew that he might struggle."
The Phillies remain hopeful Brown can be the team's everyday left fielder as early as next season.
"If he's the guy we are projecting him to be, then that's part of development," Manuel said of being sent down to the Minor Leagues. "It's a part of being a big leaguer. I played a long time and I used to get my feelings hurt when I got sent down. But what do you do about it? You pick up a Louisville and go down there and try to hit."
Savery's unlikely run takes him to Philly
PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Savery had his truck loaded up and ready to roll.
He expected to be somewhere on Interstate 81 Saturday.
Instead, he found himself unpacking his bags in the Phillies' clubhouse, perhaps hours from making his big league debut. The Phillies selected his contract following Friday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Savery, catcher Erik Kratz, outfielder Brandon Moss, right-hander Justin De Fratus and outfielder Domonic Brown all joined the Phillies on Saturday after finishing the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Savery's arrival was the most surprising, if one had placed odds on those five before the season started. A first-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University, he was struggling so much as a pitcher during his first four seasons in the farm system, the Phillies agreed to try him as a hitter this season. He opened the season with Class A Clearwater, earning Minor League Player of the Month honors in April. But he eventually returned to pitching and blossomed. He went 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 25 games with Clearwater, Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. In 36 innings, he walked six and struck out 41.
"Being good at baseball again," he said, when asked about the most surprising thing about his season. "You feel like you've tried everything and anything on the mound, and it felt like it wasn't coming back. I never had anything in my arm. Just seemed like it was what it was."
Understandably, Savery had his doubts he would make the big leagues. He had no desire to become a career Minor Leaguer and re-enrolled in classes at Rice in the fall. He cancelled those classes last month.
"I figured that I was getting to the point where I had worn out my welcome," he said. "I just figured it was time to try something else. My dad has been in real estate in Houston for 30 years. I hadn't really gotten that far, but I figured this was close to the end."
Savery was overcome with emotion when he got the news Friday, shedding a few tears.
"I can't believe I'm sitting here right now," he said. "There's no way you could have come up with this. I certainly wasn't planning for it."
But here is something even more mind-blowing for Savery to think about: Phillies left-hander Antonio Bastardo has struggled recently, which means the Phillies could be looking for a second left-hander in the bullpen for the postseason.
How crazy would that be?
"Our minds are open," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "I've seen him pitch myself. He's throwing much better. He earned his way here."
De Fratus thrilled to join big league club
PHILADELPHIA -- Word travelled fast on the greatest day of Justin De Fratus' life.
He could not wait to call his parents to tell them that the Phillies had promoted him to the big leagues Friday, but the word had already spread on the Internet. So when his father, Terry, picked up the phone, it was clear he already knew.
"Dude!" he said to his son.
"I called them five minutes too late," De Fratus said Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. "That was the one thing I was a little upset about. I knew he knew when he picked up the phone. My mother [Dorothy] was in the background. I think she was crying a little bit. But it was just a good moment for my whole family."
The Phillies selected De Fratus in the 11th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He went 6-3 with a 2.99 ERA and 15 saves in 17 opportunities this season spread between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is one of the reasons the Phillies are excited about the future of their bullpen, along with Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Michael Schwimer, David Herndon and Joe Savery.
"There were no expectations," De Fratus said. "I knew I was throwing well, and I figured if there was any time, this was a good time. There were no expectations, but when you were told, it's just like, 'Wow.' I was numb, you know? It didn't really hit until me and my buddy drove up and saw Citizens Bank Park and saw all the people. That's when it first hit me."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.