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.