Things haven’t gone too well for former San Francisco Giants first rounder Gary Brown over the past couple years, and each time his struggles have started in spring training. So could things be looking up for the 25-year-old now that he’s off to the best spring training start of his career?
Brown added an RBI single on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies, making him 3 for his first 6 this spring. That contrasts with 2013 and 2012, when he started 1-for-6 each time. While that may seem like a very small sample size to look at, consider that Brown finished those springs with averages of .219 and .167, respectively.
His struggles have actually followed him into the regular season both years. Following his spectacular season at Class A San Jose in 2011, Brown hit just .227 during his first month with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. While he seemingly had turned it around following a better second half in Richmond, Brown once again struggled during the entire season at Triple-A Fresno and finished with a .231 batting average.
While keeping his approach at the plate consistent has been a big issue for Brown, it’s worth wondering if he’s been affected by a loss in confidence spurned by his poor starts at the plate. Brown’s been somewhat humbled thus far in 2014, so maybe he has an extra hunger to succeed this year. His number has been changed from the more prestigious 10 to number 56, which probably can’t be pulled off by any outfielder other than Andres Torres. Though he’s received more playing time in center field thus far, most observers of the organization now believe that fellow outfielder Juan Perez is the organization’s best defensive center fielder, and Perez has actually put up solid numbers at the plate in the big leagues.
In addition, he’d seem to now be battling for seventh, at best, in the outfield pecking order. Perez and non-roster invitee Tyler Colvin are the two primary candidates for the major-league club’s fifth outfielder role. Brown probably is going to be competing with 27-year-old Roger Kieschnick for an in-season call-up this year.
While it’s a small sample size, Brown’s quick spring start has to be encouraging to the Giants. If he can start producing at the plate, maybe they can get at least some of the value out of him that they envisioned him having when they took him 24th overall in 2010.