Is Brown still San Francisco's center fielder of the future? Only if his hit tool plays, which many aren't convinced of.
Fifteen months ago Gary Brown was viewed by many as an elite prospect, destined to lose Gold Gloves to inferior defenders and lead the Giants to the Promised Land. People were amazed that 23 players were selected before Brown in the 2010 draft. When teams would inquire on Brown, the Giants would show reluctance to part with him to shore up their club in the short term. Many expected him to make it to the majors quickly and become the team’s center fielder of both the present and future.
Notes on 12 prospects playing in either the Arizona Fall League or the Venezuelan Winter League.
One of the good things about scouring minor league box scores this time of the year is finding familiar names still plugging away and hoping for another chance in the big leagues. And I am happy to announce that there's been a Runelvys Hernandez sighting in the Dominican Winter League! The 34 year-old former Royals and Astros starter, who has a career line of 25-36 with a 5.50 ERA in 82 big league starts (none since 2008), is currently pitching for the Leones del Escogido. Hey, Royals fans. Remember that one time when Runelvys was your Opening Day starter, and he threw like six shutout innings and beat Mark Buehrle and the White Sox? That was awesome. Here are some notable performances from Thursday:
Between the weather, the Mythbusters, and Full House reruns, life's pretty good in San Francisco. But that doesn't mean their top prospects can't fail like the rest of us.
Prospect #1: OF Gary Brown Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources Who: A first-round selection in the 2010 draft, Brown emerged as a near-elite prospect in 2011, showing above-average offensive potential to match his well above-average defensive skill set. The 23-year-old center fielder has all the qualities to become a frontline defensive force, with top-of-the-chart speed that gives him a very broad coverage area, a very solid glove, instincts for the position, and solid-average arm strength. His bat isn’t in the same league as his glove, but the hit tool has promise, with some scouts projecting it to be a plus weapon at the major league level. Without much pop, Brown’s game is more contact and speed, limiting his overall offensive impact, but making him a realistic leadoff option. His defense at a premium position will be his ticket to the majors, and the development and utility of the stick will determine whether Brown becomes a fringe starter or an All-Star. Opinions on the ultimate projection are quite mixed.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: “Brown’s offensive skills aren’t as average as his 2012 numbers might suggest, but they aren’t as top-shelf as his 2011 numbers either. The reality is somewhere in between. He’s a good hitter, but he’s not a great hitter.” This is a tasty quote from a very good source, and it represents the majority of opinion I received when I asked around about Brown. His struggles in Double-A can be attributed to his weakness against quality right-handed pitching, most notably arms that can locate velocity inside or drop sharp breaking stuff out of the zone. He has good bat control and a stroke designed for contact, but he either fails to recognize and adjust to such off-speed offerings, or his appetite for unhittable breaking balls is so intense that he is compelled to swing despite knowing that his attempts will be for naught. I’m assuming it’s the former. If he can refine this skill, Brown should be more than adequate at the plate, with contact ability and enough speed to turn weak contact into base hits. Power is never going to be a big part of his game—his swing is built for the gaps rather than the seats beyond the fence—but he can put the good part of the barrel on the ball. His value is elevated by his ability to play center field at a high level, so anything you can get from the bat will only add to his worth. If the bat fails to develop to major league standards, Brown will still reach the level thanks to his glove and his speed. If he can hit for some average, his overall profile will make him a starter. If the bat explodes, he will be a star.
A number of high-profile prospects are off to disappointing starts. But how worried should we be?
We’re three weeks into the minor league season, and so far there are a few prospects that entered the year with high expectations, yet are falling well below them. It's easy to just say small sample size, and chances are that plays a huge role, but the question remains: are there reasons to be concerned? Here's a look at a quintet of players having slow starts, and why you should be concerned. Or not.
Kevin shares his picks for Minor League Player of the Year honors.
Making pre-season picks for minor league player of the year honors is a bit more complex than doing the same for big league awards. The biggest issue is, of course, playing time. The trio of Rays lefty Matt Moore and outfielders Bryce Harper (Nationals) and Mike Trout (Angels) are universally seen as the top three prospects in baseball, but none is a good pick for 2012 honors: Moore will open the year in the big leagues, and Harper and Trout will likely follow suit. Instead, you need a player who will spend the entire year away from the majors, either in an environment that is conducive to putting up good numbers, or with an assignment where the player can impress for other reasons. Here are my top ten candidates.
Checking in on Daniel Bibona, Gary Brown, Christian Colon, and Francis Larson.
Christian Colon, Cal State Fullerton
Colon attended Canyon High School in Anaheim, where he was a teammate of Grant Green, the Athletics’ first-round pick in 2009. Green, the incumbent shortstop, usually got the nod to play his primary position, shifting Colon to second base until his senior season. Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round of the 2007 draft, Colon followed through on his commitment to Cal State Fullerton and slid back to the left side of the infield, becoming Fullerton’s starting shortstop in his freshman year.
As many of our readers were submitting their ballots for the annual Internet Baseball Awards, 11 Baseball Prospectus authors went into the polling booths themselves, voicing their opinions on who should win the major baseball awards this year. Here are the results...
As many of our readers were submitting their ballots for the annual Internet Baseball Awards, 11 Baseball Prospectus authors went into the polling booths themselves, voicing their opinions on who should win the major baseball awards this year. Here are the results: