For the first time in his career, it appeared as if Domonic Brown was going to head into Opening Day as a starter for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013. However, things changed for Brown on January 22, when Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. announced that the team had signed Delmon Young. Even worse for Brown, Amaro mentioned that he thought Young could be the starter in right field for the Phillies. Whether those words were meant to fire up Brown is unknown, but it now appears that Young will begin the season on the disabled list, giving Brown a golden opportunity to be starting come Opening Day.
Brown should have been the starter from the get-go. He has been yo-yoed through the Phillies organization over the past few years, and 2013 looked like it finally meant Brown would get a chance. He deserves at least a chance to show the Phillies he can be a full-time player.
Some will say he had that chance when he was essentially in the lineup every day for the final two months of the 2012 season, but even last year, he was shifted between left field and right field on an almost daily basis. When last season was all said and done, he hit .235/.316/.396, with his overall Major League totals now at .236/.315/.388.
When he was called up on July 31st after the trades of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, he knew he would be in the lineup quite a bit. Even around the time of his call-up, he was taking fly balls in center field in the Minors, a true sign that the Phillies had no idea what they were going to do with him. His outfield defense is certainly suspect and will likely hound him until he can prove otherwise, but if his bat shows up, it could be a little easier to overlook the defense.
The proper thing to do is to put Brown in right field to begin the year in a sink-or-swim situation. To be honest, I don’t see Young helping the Phillies much this year. In 1993, the Phillies used platoons in both corner outfield spots. It’s probably not something teams want to do, but the Phillies will likely have one in left field.
They could have one in right depending on how things play out, but if Brown has a strong first month of the season, Young may never factor into the picture. Brown now knows that April will be the most important month of his professional career to date, and if he impresses, he might look at it as the jumping off point for a successful Major League career that so many have been waiting to see.