Domonic Brown has been in the Phillies' organization since 2006, when he was 18 years old. He started getting major recognition as a prospect in 2009, when Baseball America ranked him the 48th best prospect in the league, and in 2010 he was named the 15th best.
His numbers in the minor leagues have been amazing, most notably his .980 OPS in 2010, when he split time between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. His numbers even earned him a MLB debut in 2010, when he was only 22.
But despite Brown's great minor league numbers and scouting reports, he has struggled mightily in the majors. In 184 at bats last year, he hit a dismal .245, driving in just 19 RBI and five home runs. On top of this, his fielding is comparable to that of a little-leaguer: committing four errors (in 2011) and misplaying countless balls in left field.
After his disappointing year in 2011, Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr announced that Brown would spend all of 2012 in the minor leagues with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. This raises the question: will Brown ever be as good as people expect him to be, or is his previous MLB performance a sign of things to come?
The short answer is that Brown, 24, will never be a star player. Scouting reports and past hype have made it seem like Brown could do everything: hit for power, average, run with speed and gun a man down from the outfield.
The truth is that Brown is far from being a wizard in the field, and he has never had a season with more than 25 steals, even in the minors. He does seem to have hitting ability in Triple-A, but against MLB competition, he's just not good enough.
That doesn't mean that Brown won't be a starter in 2013, when he's a year older and more experienced. Another year in Lehigh Valley will help work on his hitting, and more importantly, his fielding. With Ryne Sandberg as his manager (Sandberg was named the best manager in the minor leagues by Baseball America), he's in good hands and should progress.
What is most impeding Brown's progress right now is his confidence. When he was considered a Top Prospect, he could do no wrong; after his failure in the MLB last year, he couldn't do anything right.
After his demotion last July, Brown hit .227 and made four errors in just 30 games. If the Phillies keep bringing him up the MLB just to send him down again, his confidence, and consequently his numbers, will continue to drop.
The Phillies best bet for Domonic Brown is to trade him. He has been so over-hyped by the media that fans expect him to be the greatest prospect ever, and he's not. If things go badly for him, fans have no patience and will call for his head on a platter. In an environment where the crowds aren't as harsh and less is expected of him, he'll do fine.
But in Philadelphia, Domonic Brown will never live up to his massive potential