San Francisco Giants’ Gary Brown – A Falling Star
It was very fitting that on Tuesday, August 27th, Baseball Hot Corner released their special team reports chronicling each teams first round picks for the past decade (to see the team report for the San Francisco Giants, click here). It was fitting because it just so happens that the Giants triple-A affiliate, Fresno Grizzlies, was in town to take on the Oakland A’s triple-A affiliate, Sacramento River Cats, and a recent first round pick featured on the Giants team report is currently playing with the Grizzlies. The first rounder I’m referring to is center fielder Gary Brown.
A once heralded prospect for the Giants, Brown now finds himself struggling in his first go-around in triple-A, struggling to the point where some are beginning to question if he’ll ever be able to become a regular, contributing player at the major league level. Before the 2012 season, respected prospect rating Web Site, Baseball America, had Brown as their #38 best prospect in all of baseball. This season, he was left off their list. In his first season with the Grizzlies, Brown is hitting .233/.288/.382 with 77 R’s, 125 H’s, 29 2B’s, 13 HR’s, 48 RBI’s, 16 SB, 32 BB, 130 K’s, and an OPS of .671. What is very disconcerting is the number of K’s Brown is taking this season. It’s never good when you have more strikeouts than hits in a season, which Brown currently has (125 H’s to 130 K’s). In his first two seasons in the Giants farm system, 2010 spent in high single-A San Jose, and 2011 spent in double-A Richmond, Brown only had 77 K’s and 87 K’s respectively, and in relatively the same amount of plate appearances and games that he will play in this season in triple-A.
I had the pleasure of getting to see Brown in person, as I figured I had to see for myself why Brown’s star has fallen so far.
First at-bat: batting right-handed, Brown is very compact with his batting stance, keeping his back right elbow down, virtually right up against his right side. He also keeps his hands very close to his body, almost right up against his chest. As the pitch is thrown, he begins to separate his elbow and hands away from his body and into a more normal hitting position. He works the count to 2-2, and hits the ball hard on the noise for a line out to center field.
Second at-bat: Brown has an uneventful second at-bat. After taking the first pitch for a ball, he swinging at the next two pitches on the outer part of the plate, hitting a lazy, routine foul ball that is caught by the River Cats first baseman, Anthony Aliotti.
Third at-bat: In full attack mode, Brown swings at the first pitch he sees, hitting a long but routine fly deep to medium-deep center field.
Fourth at-bat: Not afraid of swinging, Brown again swings at the first pitch he sees, but this time fouling the ball off behind him. On the second pitch, Brown almost gets hit by an inside pitch, which actually ended up hitting and breaking his bat. After getting some new wood, he promptly swings at the next pitch of the at-bat, and grounds out to short.
Overall Analysis: I’m am really worried that Brown will never live up to the expectations and hopes Giants fans have had for him, and in fact, I’m scared that we will look back and see Brown as a lost prospect. His plate discipline is just terrible and as the night progressed, Brown looked more impatient at the plate, swinging at fewer and fewer pitches, making me question if he is pressing, trying to make too much happen. After taking a relatively long at-bat for him his first time up at the plate, he saw 3 pitches in his second at-bat, 1 pitches his third, and 3 pitches his fourth. He must improve his plate discipline and cut way down on his strikeouts.
Additionally, for being labeled a prospect with plus steal, he sure isn’t stealing many bases, and stealing them successfully at that. This season, he has just 16 SB’s in 131 games, but has also been caught stealing 11 times. 16 for 27 isn’t the percentage you are looking for in your potential future leadoff hitter.
Brown played out of position as well this game as he is a natural center fielder, but with current Giants center fielder Angel Pagan in the middle of a rehab stint with the Grizzlies, Brown was relegated to right field. He had a tough time with a ball that caromed off the right field wall, allowing River Cats right fielder Michael Taylor to advance easily to second base. No matter how Brown plays that ball, Taylor takes second anyways, but if played cleanly, he at least makes a hard throw in to challenge the play. Brown also got to show off his impressive arm, as he took a routine sac fly and flung a throw to home from medium right field in an attempt to gun the runner scoring from third, and the ball got there on the fly with ground to give. Later in the game, he moved over to play his natural position of center field once Pagan was pulled.
As a Giants fan, I had high hopes and much enthusiasm for Brown when he was first drafted and coming up through the ranks of the Giants farm system. But after seeing him tonight, I’m starting to wonder like the masses are right and if we’ll ever see Brown in a Giants uniform on a regular bases.