Phillies Cut Ties With Dom Brown
By Matt Veasey
It wasn’t supposed to end like this between the Philadelphia Phillies and outfielder Domonic Brown. The club removed the 28-year old who just five years ago was the #1 prospect in all of baseball, and who became a National League All-Star at age 25, from their 40-man roster today.
The practical effect of the removal from the Phillies’ 40-man roster is that Brown can immediately elect to become a free agent. This could very well be the classic example where a “change of scenery” is needed for a player who simply never lived up to lofty expectations for any extended period of time.
Brown appeared in just 63 games this season with the Phillies. His 2015 got off to a slow start when he had to be disabled due to tendonitis in his left Achilles tendon. Sent to the minors when finally healthy, Brown struggled in a half-dozen games at Clearwater, and then in 228 plate appearances across 52 games with AAA Lehigh Valley.
Altogether in the 2015 minor league season, Brown hit for a .260/.315/.366 slash line with just three homers, 13 doubles, and 29 RBI. His promotion back to the big leagues in early June was certainly not earned, but simply the organization wanting to give their former prized prospect just one more shot to prove that he belonged.
Brown did nothing with that final shot. In his 204 plate appearances across 63 games with the Phillies, Brown hit for just a .228/.284/.349 slash line. He smacked five homers, had six doubles, and drove in 25 runs before his season ended after suffering a concussion following an extremely awkward defensive play on September 2nd at Citi Field on which he tumbled into the right field stands.
Earlier in the summer, in the midst of that final shot, Brown was quoted in a piece by Ryan Lawrence at Philly.com: “I’m hungry, I’m hungry right now, man,” Brown said. “I’m out here busting my butt every single day. I’m really hungry – I don’t think I’ve ever been this hungry, ever. But like I told you guys, I’m not going to go out there and put extra pressure on myself. I’m feeling great, I’m feeling good – in the outfield, on the bases, at the plate. Like I said, it’s just time to get some results, and I think that’s going to happen.”
It never did happen consistently for the 20th round pick in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft by the Phillies out of Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia who became the team’s top prospect for three years running, from 2009-11, by nearly every ranking service.
In the summer of 2010, Baseball America had even named him the top prospect in all of baseball, ahead of players such as Mike Trout, Eric Hosmer, and Freddie Freeman.
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Brown struggled to find his footing in Major League Baseball during his first couple of opportunities, and as the first month of the 2013 season was ending, those struggles continued. On May 1st, 2013, Brown woke up hitting just .233 with only three home runs.
It was in early May of that year when something clicked. The proverbial light went off for Brown, and he became the hottest hitter in baseball. From May 1st through the MLB All-Star Game break, Brown hit for a .286 average and a .587 slugging percentage.
In what was just a little more than two months, Brown smashed 20 home runs, had 13 doubles, produced 56 RBI, and scored 41 runs. The torrid stretch resulted in his being named to his first NL All-Star team.
Unfortunately for Brown and the Phillies, not only could their right fielder not continue such a pace, he couldn’t produce much of anything following that All-Star appearance. Brown hit just .270 with four homers in 156 plate appearances following the break.
Brown’s cool-down coincided with a Phillies disappointing .500 season, the club’s first time finishing out of postseason play since 2006. The inability of the much-hyped Brown to step up and lead the offense as the former championship core aged, which was the stated plan, was not lost on the fans.
For most of the last couple of seasons, an increasingly vocal majority of Phillies fans, myself included, called for Brown’s head as his performances continued to disappoint. In 2014, Brown hit for just a .235/.285/.349 slash line with 10 homers and 63 RBI across 512 plate appearances.
Brown’s defense has also been atrocious throughout his big league career. Brown possesses a big arm, and showed it off with some highlight reel throws to gun down opposition runners.
However, those big throws were greatly off-set by repeated bonehead plays in the field, poor routes on fly balls, misjudged situations such as the one on the play in New York that finally and literally knocked him out this year.
Those who did continue to fight for Brown continually pointed to his “breakout 2013 All-Star season” just one year earlier, and called for more time for the potential slugger. What those voices failed to realize was that Brown had never had a “breakout” season. He simply had two hot months.
So now, Domonic Brown’s career with the Philadelphia Phillies is finally over. He finishes with 54 home runs and 229 RBI over 1,748 plate appearances and an extremely disappointing .246/.305/.405 career slash line.
Disappointing: that is the one word that will always come up with Domonic Brown where his time in Philadelphia is concerned. And if anyone ever tries to sell you on the “All-Star season”, remind them that it was a hot two months at the right time that got Brown that recognition. Never before, and never since, has Dom Brown exhibited such a high caliber of play on any consistent level.