The Philadelphia Phillies have called up outfielder Domonic Brown from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley team with the trades of both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
John Mayberry, Jr. was given the start in center field in place of Victorino tonight against the Washington Nationals, and while Brown wasn’t in the starting lineup, he will assuredly get a chance to show his skills over the second half of the season.
It’s a make or break time for both of them – more Mayberry though than Brown, because Brown can struggle for the rest of 2012 and he will definitely be back in 2013. Both were highly-regarded players, with Mayberry going as high as the 19th overall pick with the Texas Rangers back in 2005.
He has shown glimpses of power (15 home runs and a .513 slugging percentage) in 267 at-bats in 2011 but he has also been heavily exposed when used regularly (.193 from May 16 to 31 last year when he took over for a struggling Ben Francisco). Mayberry is a right-handed power bat off the bench for now, but if he could develop into a solid 25-30 home run per year kind of guy, it would really help a Phillies team that just traded away its best right handed power hitter in Pence.
Meanwhile, Brown has all the potential in the world, as he’s a 6-foot-5 left-handed hitter, but his flaws are obvious – he struggles to hit lefties (.547 career OPS against southpaws compared to .730 against righties) and he’s sloppy on defense (seven errors already this season in left field at the Triple-A level). He’s also had just 280 plate appearances with the major league club and the team probably brought him up too early in 2010 and then relied too much on him in 2011, thinking he could replace a very talented offensive player like Jayson Werth, especially on a World Series caliber team.
But Brown did show a lot of improvement from 2010 to 2011. Check out the increase in his numbers:
2010: .210/.257/.355/.612 OPS
2011: .245/.333/.391/.725 OPS
That .725 OPS last year was about on par with the major league average, and he was still heavily adjusting to major league pitching. Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves – a similarly touted player who also swings a left-handed bat and plays/played right field – started his career slowly but has blossomed as of late, and that’s the ideal situation for a guy like Brown.
The Phillies are all but out of the playoff race in 2012, so there’s really no pressure on Brown. Regardless of how he plays for the remainder of the year, he won’t make or break the season, and he will probably enter 2013 with a very good chance to win a starting job in spring training.
Mayberry however, better show the team something more than the .230 batting average and .385 slugging percentage he’s put up in 2012 or he’s going right back down to Triple-A.