Besides, Brown suffered a concussion last week when he collided with teammate Tagg Bozied when chasing after a fly ball. With a long season ahead that likely will surpass Brown’s previous career-best for games played, an easy day here and there isn’t a bad thing.
Then again, that’s just the thing — what are the Phillies plans for Brown this season? When asked last week, the team’s latest can’t-miss prospect said he didn’t know what his immediate future held. For now the plan is to suit up for Reading, get his at-bats and wait for further instructions.
It’s not known if those instructions will include a late-season call from the big club, because teams aren’t too keen on getting the service-time clock started on a player sure to command a big paycheck in the future.
After all, as of Monday afternoon the Phillies are paying out a lot more cash to a handful of players for the better part of the next decade. In fact, it might just be because of Ryan Howard’s new five-year, $125 million contract extension that Brown is officially placed on the fast track to South Philly.
See, if Jayson Werth hits the free-agent market this winter looking to cash in, then yes, chances are the Phillies won’t be able to sign him to a contract extension. Sure, the Phillies are making plenty of money with sold out crowds every night at Citizens Bank Park, but to quote Bill Gates as depicted in an episode of The Simpsons, “You don’t get rich by writing checks.”
However, if Werth wants to give the Phillies the ol’ hometown discount, then general manager Ruben Amaro should be ready to listen.
“Naturally we’d like to keep all of those guys, but we’ll go by a case-by-case basis,” Amaro said from San Francisco during the press conference to officially announce Howard’s new deal.
That’s kind of like saying, “Water is wet.” It’s obvious the Phillies will weigh all their options before deciding which players to keep and which ones to let go. Clearly the team had no trouble in letting Brett Myers walk away even though he might not look too bad pitching for the Phillies these days. Along those lines, the Amaro Gang was not averse to shelling out three years to veterans Raul Ibanez (at age 37) or Placido Polanco (age 34).
Plus, after the 2011 season Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Ryan Madson can become free agents. Theoretically the Phillies will have enough money to go around re-signing all of those players, but you know what they say about theories.
So with the harebrained theory that the Phillies will be benevolent with that extra dough they are raking in from all those sellouts, it might be wise to look ahead at cheaper alternatives. That’s where Brown comes in.
And by most accounts Brown could have cracked the 25-man roster this spring if the Phillies needed the depth on the bench. The thing there is that Brown is at the stage in his development where he needs to play as much as possible. At 22, Brown has hit .289 in 49 games for Reading, including a .325 mark this season though he has hit just one homer.
Still, Brown has a .386 on-base percentage this season and said he hoped to improve his plate discipline since jumping to Double-A. That’s an interesting notion considering Werth routinely leads the Majors in pitches seen per plate appearance and has a robust .400 on-base percentage this year.
Brown was the one player the Phillies would not part with in any deal even if it meant they would not be able to trade for Roy Halladay. He rewarded the Phillies for sticking with him by batting .417 in 11 games this spring with two homers and a pair of doubles with eight RBIs. Only Howard and Ben Francisco had better numbers in Grapefruit League action.
Here’s the crazy part… Brown was the team’s 20th-round
pick in 2006 and 606 players were taken ahead of him. Yeah, that’s right,
Brown, the untouchable, was a 20th round pick in the 2006 draft for the
Phillies. The reason he dropped nearly off the charts was because he had a
scholarship offer to play wide receiver at the University of Miami (Fla.).
Odder yet, Brown was listed as a left-handed pitcher when the Phillies drafted
Needless to say Brown hasn’t thrown a pitch since turning pro.
“He’s ridiculous,” said former Phillies starter and Brown’s teammate Scott Mathieson. “He’s one of the best outfielders I’ve ever seen.”
Still, Brown needs some honing. In 49 games at Double-A, Brown has struck out 46 times. He also has been caught stealing 29 times in 102 attempts in his minor league career. In other words, there are a lot of rough edges. Still, the potential and the raw talent that project to a five-tool All-Star is what turns heads at Reading.
“It should be lot of fun to watch him develop,” manager Steve Roadcap said.
That’s what the Phillies want to see happen. Ideally, when Ibanez’s contract runs out, Brown could create a seamless transition. But if the money runs out and Werth moves on, Brown might be needed much sooner.
Catch him in Reading while you can.