Like many highly anticipated prospects, Domonic Brown has not experienced immediate success at the major league level. That is no reason for the Phillies to cry defeat and send Brown back to Triple-A for more seasoning.
Yes, in a little more than a month's worth of games, the Phillies outfield star of the future has struggled to keep his average higher than .250 and has not provided the instant spark that many Phillies fans expected him to provide to a sometimes sluggish offense. However, Domonic Brown must remain at the major league level for the duration of the season, and there are a few key reasons why.
Domonic Brown has already proven to the Phillies that he can hit minor league pitching, batting nearly .300 over six seasons in the minors. Minor league pitching is not major league pitching. Pitchers are at Triple-A for a reason: They are not good enough to get major league hitters out. Brown's biggest problem has been hitting sliders and off-speed pitching. He will not see major league caliber breaking pitches in the minors.
Brown recently endured harsh criticism from some Phillies fans for his inability to run out a ground ball in a game last weekend against Oakland. For those who missed the incident, after hitting a hard grounder right at the second baseman, Brown did not run hard out of the box. The ball was misplayed, but because Brown was not running, he was still thrown out. They cited this as an example of his immaturity and called for his immediate dispatch to Lehigh Valley.
There could not be a more misguided reason for optioning a player to the minors. Anyone who has played the game of baseball has experienced the frustration that comes with its exceedingly high failure rate. For a struggling player unaccustomed to failure, there can be no more frustrating feeling than making solid contact and seeing the ball headed right at a fielder.
Most players have been guilty of not running out a ball at one point or another in their career. The Phillies, however, have a group of veteran players who seem to always play the game the right way. Perhaps the most important way Domonic Brown can improve is by being in the clubhouse with veteran leaders like Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez and Roy Halladay. These are only a few names that come to mind when thinking of Phillies players Brown could learn from. By learning to emulate successful players on the current Phillies roster, Brown will learn what it takes to become a leader on a major league team.
If Domonic Brown is to one day become an offensive force for the Philadelphia Phillies, he will need to learn how to succeed in the pressure-packed situations of pennant races and the postseason. As a role player this year for the Phillies, Brown will be able to experience playoff baseball without as much pressure. Gaining valuable experience in the postseason atmosphere will benefit Brown's career in the future.
Spend one game watching Domonic Brown, and it is obvious that the young outfielder oozes potential.
His home runs are rivaled on the Phillies roster only by Ryan Howard. Brown will come around this season. He is simply too talented not to. Sending him to the minors will only delay his ascent to the level of superstardom that many believe he will one day achieve.