Domonic Brown leaves Dominican after poor showing

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The Phillies would love to be able to retain Jayson Werth, but the free agent outfielder is represented by Scott Boras and his asking price at this point in the offseason is thought to be sky high.  If Werth signs elsewhere, which seems likely, the Phils are probably going to hand right field duties to 23-year-old Domonic Brown at the opening of the 2011 season.

Brown hit the cover off the ball down on the farm in 2010 to the tune of a .318/.391/.602 batting line in 65 games at Double-A and a .346/.390/.561 batting line in 28 games at Triple-A.  He has serious power potential along with good speed on the basepaths and he should be a reliable defender.

There’s little doubt that Brown is going to develop into a productive big league ballplayer, but how long will that development take?

According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Brown left his Dominican Winter League team this weekend after hitting just .069 in nine games.  This is the same guy that hit .210/.257/.355 in 70 plate appearances at the major league level in 2010.

Dabbling in small sample sizes is always problematic, but it’s quite common for young players to hit well in the minors and then fail to produce on the big stage (see: Andy LaRoche, Alex Gordon).  If things don’t go well for Brown in spring training next year, perhaps the Phillies will look at other options to replace Werth.  Or maybe they already feel a need to lock up insurance on the free agent market.

One thing’s certain: Brown needs to do some damage down in Clearwater, Florida next March.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.