by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was just a few years ago that Gary Brown was considered one of the better prospects in the game. When the Giants rented Carlos Beltran from the Mets a few years back there had been talk that they refused to part with Brown, instead sending Zack Wheeler to New York.
It looked like the sky was the limit, slashing .336/.407/.519 in 2011 to go along with 14 HR and 54 SB at High-A in 2011. Heading into 2012 all of the experts appeared to be excited for the possibilities.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball said:
“Future center fielder. Outstanding speed, doubles power with occasional home runs, not a big walk guy but makes contact and should continue to hit for a high average. Combined with strong defense, you have an impressive package of tools and skills.”
Baseball America said:
“Choking up on the bat and with his hands pinned against his side, Brown sets up like a slap hitter. But he loads quickly, has explosive wrists and bat speed, loves to shoot the gaps and flashes surprising pull power. His value, though, is in his ability to make consistent contact and to wreak havoc when he gets on base. He’s a true 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, who has been timed at 3.7 seconds from home to first on a bunt.”
However, since then things have spiraled in the wrong direction. He has seen his stolen base total dip to 32 at Double-A in 2012 than just 17 at Triple-A last season. The strikeouts also spiked against tougher pitching at Triple-A, jumping all the way to 22.2%.
The latter problem does appear to be more of a aberration, considering his 14.2% mark at Double-A and early improvements this season (15.4%). He also has continued to show power potential, with 29 doubles, 6 triples and 13 HR last season (albeit in the PCL). That’s never going to be his biggest asset, but if he can contribute around 10 HR it will be more than enough.
The real question is what has happened to his speed? It is still there, and something he can certainly use when he gets on base. Aside from the drop in SB, we have to remember that last season he owned just a .286 OBP thanks to the strikeouts and a .282 BABIP.
Never one to draw a significant number of walks, he’s improved in that area early this season as well. It’s all over a small sample, but if he continues to perform as he is it’s not going to be long before the rest of your league mates take notice.
There’s no obvious spot for him in San Francisco right now, but having been added to the 40 man roster all it may take is one injury for him to arrive. Don’t give up on the former first round draft pick, as he easily could be on the road to returning to top form.
Sources – Minor League Central, Minor League Baseball, Minor League Ball, Baseball America