When will Domonic Brown live up to his full potential?
With the NFL closing in on the end of the season, and pitchers and catchers reporting next month, the MLB will soon be back in the spotlight.
However, the Phillies did address issues of need and have improved their team to try to make another World Series run.
Being eliminated in the NLDS in 2011 was a huge disappointment for a team with World Series aspirations, but re-signing Jimmy Rollins and adding star closer Jonathan Papelbon to an already impressive bullpen gives the Phillies stability this season.
But, the biggest question this season is what to do with top prospect Domonic Brown.
Brown was in a platoon role in right field with Ben Francisco until the Phillies acquired All-Star Hunter Pence at the trade deadline. Since then, Brown has been switched to left field and is still learning the position.
The Phillies organization have handled all matters regarding Brown terribly, but he has not performed the way they wanted him to. He has struggled at the major league level, and right now, is considered a Quadruple-A player.
Brown has great career numbers in Triple-A including a .298 AVG and a .453 SLG, including a monster 2010 year with a .327 AVG, 20 HR and 68 RBI. Not only can Brown hit, but he has a rocket arm and great speed. He needs to improve upon his judgement and positioning in the outfield, especially since switching to left field.
The only way those attributes will improve is from playing everyday.
During Brown’s best year in 2010, the Phillies made a mistake calling him up to the majors before September. He was used in a bench role when he could’ve been playing everyday in Triple-A. Brown lost valuable playing time going into a season where he would be expected to play a role at the MLB level with the expected departure of Jaysen Werth.
Brown’s numbers in limited MLB action have not been as pretty. His AVG is an abysmal .236 and has seven home runs.
There has been flashes of greatness, showing Brown’s high ceiling, including an upper-deck bomb against the Giants in his shortened 2010 season.
However, Brown does not have a place on the current Phillies roster. With the signing of Laynce Nix, who's a solid left fielder off the bench and the return of last year’s breakout player John Mayberry Jr., Domonic will most likely start the season in Triple-A.
He may be stuck there the whole season. If Brown heats up in Triple-A, and the Phillies need outfield help, he may see some time in the majors. Also, if Nix or Mayberry cannot stay healthy, Brown will likely be their replacement.
There's a slight chance Brown will start the season as part of the major league roster, because of Ryan Howard’s injury. Mayberry and Jim Thome will split the duties at first while Howard is on the disabled list. That leaves Nix to get significant playing time in left field for the Phillies to start the season.
But, the right move for the organization would be to let Brown get comfortable and improve in the minors. There's no reason to keep him in the majors until Howard returns to play a bench role, when he can be gaining valuable experience in left field in Lehigh Valley. He can then contribute along with Mayberry Jr. in the future for the Phillies.
Brown needs to regain his confidence and get his swing back, which was altered by Phillies coaches in the spring of 2011. Even though his swing is very awkward, the Phillies coaches realized they needed to stop trying to fix his swing and let him swing how he's comfortable.
With practice and repetition in the minors, Brown can move on to have a very successful career in the majors.
He is just not ready to do so this season.
Follow @drewmiller33 on twitter!