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Why Domonic Brown Needs to Stay in the Minors

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Why Domonic Brown Needs to Stay in the Minors
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The script is already written. Now, Phillies management needs to start following it.

Domonic Brown, the Phillies 22 year-old outfielding phenom, is the missing piece the 2010 Phillies need. They need to call him up right now.

Brown will come to the rescue, and once in the Phils’ lineup, his dynamic skillset will immediately help the Phillies win.

His mere presence and youthful flare will also inspire his veteran teammates who have all grown “complacent,” and lead them to their fourth straight NL East division title.  

If only it were all that simple.

Actually, Domonic Brown needs to stay in the minor leagues with the Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the remainder of the 2010 season.

Look, it has nothing to do with me doubting Brown’s abilities or his potential.  And no, it has nothing to do with me believing that Raul Ibanez will somehow rediscover the Lou Gehrig stroke he displayed during the first two months of 2009.

To tell you the truth, Domonic Brown could be ready for the big show right now. He really could be.

But here’s the catch—right now is not the right time to find out if he is.

For over a month, there has been a certain segment of Phillie fans and media members who have wanted to see Domonic Brown replace the offensively stagnant veteran Ibanez as the every day leftfielder. Phils' management wants Brown to play almost (if not) every day, so calling him up to be a bench player is out of the question.

But promoting Brown would be totally unfair to one man and one man only. No, not Raul Ibanez, but Domonic Brown himself.

If the Phillies were out of the playoff picture, then sure, bringing up Brown could be justified. Of course, that’s not the case. The Phils are treading water just well enough to make us think they still have a chance to compete.

Therefore, bringing Brown up now would put the Phillies' top prospect in a very difficult, pressure-packed situation.

Thankfully, the Phillies didn’t bring him up weeks ago.

Domonic Brown shouldn't be asked to work through his growing pains at a time when the Phillies are fighting for their playoff lives.

There’s a reason why, usually, it takes even the most highest-rated prospects months, if not years, to figure out hitting at the major-league level. For every rookie call up who immediately sets the batter’s box ablaze, there are 10 rookies who initially struggle to find their groove. And that’s completely understandable for a young hitter.

For every rookie like Brennan Boesch, there are 10 like Mike Stanton.

Just look at Jason Heyward, the 20-year-old kid in Atlanta who this past spring was getting compared to some of the greatest hitters of all time even before he recorded a single major-league at-bat.

The “Jay-Hey Kid” was all but awarded the NL Rookie of the Year on Opening Day after his first major-league swing produced a screaming laser beam home run that’s still in orbit somewhere almost four months later.

Of course, Heyward’s going to be a star, but he’s also human, especially in his rookie season. Jason’s still having a good rookie campaign, but he’s also experienced some of the typical rookie growing pains that most young hitters struggle through.

Heyward saw his batting average fall from .298 in the end of May to .251 in the end of June. His run production hit a standstill while his strikeout totals exploded before he landed on the 15-day DL at the end of June.

Naturally, the Braves have reported that Heyward’s struggles were attributed to a sore thumb that had bothered him for a month before he went on the DL.

Just perfect, Atlanta. Guess that’s because Hank Aaron and Willie Mays never, ever hit slumps, especially at age 20.       

The bottom line is that it was too much to just assume Heyward would tear up the league from day one, and the same is true in Brown’s case, even after already playing almost a full season of minor-leaque ball in 2010.

This Phillies roster is filled with men who are battle-tested and fully expected to make the difference down the stretch. Domonic Brown is not one of them.

Of course, Brown should get his chance to play at Citizens Bank Park and get some major-league at-bats once Lehigh Valley’s 2010 season ends on Monday, September 6.

He should be one of a few minor-league call-ups. He’ll probably start some games, but he should not be forced into a position where he plays every day in the majors all while potentially in the heat of a pennant race.   

Domonic Brown should not and will not be the Phillies savior this season, but he could be in 2011 and beyond. The Phillies currently have an aging core of terrific but declining players and a farm system that right now doesn’t seem to be loaded with super-star prospects.

Domonic Brown could be the new face of this franchise in three years. He could be its savior.

But the thing is, he doesn’t need that kind responsibility just yet, and much more importantly, he doesn’t deserve the kind of pressure that comes with it.

For more on Domonic Brown, please click here.

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