Jays From The Couch takes an in-depth look at the career of newly acquired outfielder Domonic Brown
Early on Thursday February 25, 2016, the Blue Jays signed lefty outfielder Domonic Brown to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The 28 year old Brown, was selected in the 20th round of the 2006 Amateur Draft after turning down a football scholarship to become a wide receiver for the University of Miami. Brown became a highly regarded prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies system, becoming a top five prospect in the MLB. After three unsuccessful stints in the Majors, and a ton of odd injuries in the Minors, it seemed to all come together in 2013, after getting the Major League call up, right out of Spring Training.
In May of 2013, Brown would be the National League player of the month, batting .303 for the month, smacking 12 home runs, driving in 25, and weirdly never taking a walk for the entire month. Brown’s play was on the rise, he was named an All-Star in 2013, despite maybe being one of the worst defensive outfielders in the entire league (-15.9 Def in 2013). He posted a 1.9 WAR, finished the season batting .272/.324/.494, with 27 home runs and 83 RBI. Domonic’s 2013 season, finally showed critics why he was a top prospect in the MLB.
Entering 2014, Brown hoped to continue his stellar play, but instead he would have his worst season to date. Playing in a career high 144 games, Brown would post a -1.7WAR at the plate Brown’s numbers drastically declined to .228/.284/.349 along with hitting 17 fewer homers, and having 20 fewer RBI than the year before. Despite only having two errors all season, Brown’s greatest weakness didn’t improve either. Playing in 1041.1 innings in the outfield, Brown would post a -9.4 UZR which ranked 50th of 59 qualified outfielders. At the end of 2014, the Phillies still viewed Domonic Brown as a potential major building piece. “Those are all younger players who need to be surrounded by quality people and players who can help us develop them as players and people,” said Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in a 2014 interview with www.philly.com.
Entering 2015, Brown would sign a one year/ $2.6 million contract with hopes to prove his worth once again. After suffering some tendinitis in his achilles in Spring Training, Dominic wouldn’t make his season debut until early June, only playing in 63 games all season. The 2015 season wouldn’t prove Brown’s 2014 was a sophomore slump, as many of Brown’s problems from the 2014 season would continue right over to 2015. Hitting .192 in his first month back, it would seem that Brown’s hard hitting contact he saw in 2013 had simply vanished, as his ISO dropped .100 since 2013. While Domonic continued to struggle at the plate, his defence was well…
It’s not like Brown’s arm is bad. It’s almost a complete lack of judgement when he’s playing the outfield which is surprising for someone who was regarded as such a great wide receiver in high school. At the end of the 2015 season, the Phillies didn’t view Brown as one of those cornerstone pieces in their franchise anymore, outrighting him from the 40 man roster in October.
Brown’s chances of making the Major League roster out of Spring Training are slim. He will be fighting for a spot against Ezequiel Carrera who had the best year of his career last season, Michael Saunders who is a proven MLB player coming back from injury, the speedy young Dalton Pompey, and newly acquired Junior Lake. The positive is this is only a minor league contract, so there isn’t much risk taken here on Brown. Adding more minor league depth, maybe a pinch hitter, or someone who can come in and play the occasional DH is always nice to have on the roster. A big part of an athlete performing is just finding the right fit with a team.
Maybe the Phillies just weren’t that for Domonic anymore. We can hope that maybe this is the Spring Training where Domonic is hungry, and ready to prove what he’s worth. With his move to the American League East ballparks, and him suited for the potential DH role, this might be the move that Domonic needed in his career all along.
*Featured Image Credit: UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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