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Domonic Brown a key player in Phillies' rebuilding stage

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As he rounded the bases after homering off Boston reliever Junichi Tazawa during Tuesday’s Phillies game, Domonic Brown had that a confident look on his face. The kind of look that says “Yep, I’m here in the big leagues, and I belong.” The reigning NL Player of the Week’s ninth inning blast was his second home run in as many games and gave the Phillies a much needed insurance run en route to a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox.    

 

Hitting sixth in a dismal Phillies lineup plagued by abysmal plate discipline and debilitating injuries, Brown has been team’s lonDomonic Brown photo: Getty Imagese offensive bright spot. In fact, Brown, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and (until recently) Kyle Kendrick have been the only bright spots on an aging team that’s clearly seen its share of better days.  With the decline of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard, Brown is no longer just a youngster facing a make or break future with a veteran Phillies team. If he remains healthy, Brown is on his way to becoming the team’s main source of power and a key piece in what will eventually become a new era of Phillies baseball.

 

Of course, the future remains to be seen, but from the looks of things, it seems that Brown is finally living up to his billing as the top prospect in the Phillies minor league system. I’m sure there were some in the Phillies’ organization that were wondering if Brown’s development would come to fruition.

 

After all, it’s not like Brown just came out of nowhere. He’s been back and forth from the minors and the big club since 2010 and even made the Phillies’ postseason roster that year. After Jayson Werth left the Phillies via free agency, the Phillies had an open roster spot for Brown in rightfield in 2011, but the Phillies’ attempt to tinker with his swing combined with a myriad of hand and leg injuries hampered and stunted his development over the next few seasons. And oh yeah, Brown was shifting between rightfield, centerfield, and his eventual position in leftfield during this time as well.

 

In Brown’s defense, that’s a lot to grasp for a somebody with lofty expectations gunning for a shot at the big leagues.  Furthermore, the Phillies were gunning for a championship in 2010 and 2011 and needed immediate production from anybody they inserted in their all star lineup. Some rookies shine in that spotlight (Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter), but sometimes others have to adjust.  And despite his improvements this season, Brown still is a raw talent who only wants to get better.

 

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it, but I think you’re seeing that with Domonic,” said Phillies’ assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner of Brown's desire to improve on Mike Missanelli’s  97.5 FM the Fanatic  show Wednesday afternoon.

 

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Going into Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox, Brown is hitting .257 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs. He probably would have more if anybody bothered to take a walk in this Phillies lineup. Seven of his 11 homers have been solo shots. While Brown’s defense hasn’t cost the Phillies any games this year, he probably won’t remind anybody of Willie Mays. Furthermore, he needs to his .294 on base percentage could be better. But if it’s any consolation, Darryl Strawberry, the former Mets slugger whom Brown has been compared to at times, only had a .336 OBP his rookie year- so anything is possible.

 

And as far as his place in the order, Brown is probably better suited staying in the sixth hole for now. Despite his injuries, Ryan Howard has earned his place hitting cleanup in the order, and the Phillies are better off breaking up their left handed hitters. Besides, Domonic Brown seems to be just fine right where he is right now. He’ll be bumped up soon enough.

And believe me, that time will probably come a lot sooner than later with this current Phillies team.

 

 Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Getty Images