Domonic Brown was the untouchable. The Phillies would not trade him. Not for Cliff Lee. Not for Roy Halladay. He debuted to a standing ovation in 2010 as the Phillies entered an offensive funk down the stretch. But soon the magic died.
Brown hit just .210 in his late season call-up in 2010, and Spring Training 2011 before there ever was a Hunter Pence Brown broke his hand before he had a chance to really compete for a spot on the club and right field went to Ben Francisco and John Mayberry. He did get 184 at bats in 2011 but hit just .245.
Spring Training 2012 Brown was never a strong consideration. It did not help that he injured his neck sleeping during a bus ride. Then, eight days later Brown was optioned to the minor leagues. At the time General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. seemed to think he was not a major leaguer:
"He's got some work to do there," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We're not in the mode right now to develop guys at the Major League level, and he's a guy that needs to get to the point where we're comfortable with him in all phases of the game and then get him back to Philadelphia when he's ready to do that."
On March 23rd when Amaro made these comments, neither he nor most of the Phillies fan base would think Brown would get much of a chance in 2012. Hunter Pence was firmly implanted in Brown's right field, Shane Victorino was in center, and Juan Pierre was solid in left. But, eventually the Phillies would be sellers at the trade deadline and they would be in the mode to develop guys at the major league level.
Brown's upswing came after being moved to center field at AAA Lehigh Valley. It seemed like a last-ditch attempt to make something, anything of Brown's career. At the time he was hitting in the .240s. The rejuvenation began then. The month of June Brown hit over .300 and reports such as this one from the Philadelphia Daily News said that Brown had a "renewed enthusaism".
In the days prior to the trade deadline, Brown saw time in left field, center field, and right field as the Phillies looked to give the team options for whatever would happen at the trade deadline. July 31 Brown got the call.
Brown has appeared in eight games since his recall and has impressed. After going 1 for 3 tonight, Brown is hitting .292 with two doubles and two RBI. He has also thrown out two runners with his arm. For the second night, he has batted in the two-hole.
In the postgame press conference carried on 94 WIP, Manuel spoke about how he really likes how Brown can make contact and strike out very little. He has struck out just once in his 24 at bats so far.
Now, there are some who will say that it is too early to praise him, while others are impressed:
Consider the opposite. If Brown has come up to the majors and struck out 10 or 11 times, was hitting .192 instead of .292 and making fielding blunders, we would easily question his presence in the Phillies lineup. So far we can come to the conclusion that it appears that Brown belongs in the major leagues. I'll take it.
I will enjoy watching him down the line, and look forward to when Brown gets an opportunity to play some center field and some right field.