In baseball, the unrealized situation provides the illusion of trumping reality; for instance, many Philadelphia Phillies fans bemoan the prospects lost but do not celebrate the keeping of Domonic Brown. Have those gems shined with their new teams?
Please, scroll down for this edition of Nitecap Insight: The Brown Controversy.
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the organization’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles.
There will be a published storyline each week.
Check out this complementary piece on Brown: Storyline: Controversy, Before and After, on the Philadelphia Phillies
The Brown Controversy:
A spectacular final week concealed a strong month: It created a false impression.
Despite a solid summer with an All-Star selection, Brown draws mixed feelings from the faithful. Some expect a numerical drop without a big month, which was really a special last week. His stats for the last six days were .348, six homers and nine RBI; his May production without them was .291, six long balls and 21 RBI. Therefore, when you deduct the hot ending, he averaged .269 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI.
Of six youngsters, one sticks in the majors including reserve roles. At each plateau, one hopeful hits his talent ceiling, which involves his mental aptitude as well. This dynamic becomes visible at the Double-A level, when the hometown fans discover the statistics of another future star.
According to Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk, the Phils were dangling Brown for a three-slot starter, but nothing developed. With Darin Ruf as a left field replacement, Ruben Amaro Jr. sought a proven commodity behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. However, there is a premium for healthy starters.
Minor League Progression:
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The Decision with the Tribe:
In most trades, the known minor leaguer is usually the key, but Jason Knapp headed the Lee deal. Cleveland received four players but most here had never heard of the 19 year old. With a fastball touching triple digits, scouts envisioned a number one or a power closer. But he had two worrisome surgeries in three years, and the Indians released him. Now attempting a comeback, he will encounter difficulty at Single-A because franchises reserve second-rung spots for recently drafted talent.
Carlos Carrasco reached his peak in 2011 with a 8-9 record and a 4.62 ERA before his depth-chart decline toward Triple-A. Since ’11, he has had a Tommy John operation and earned a eight-game suspension last April for throwing at a hitter. After demotions to the bullpen and Triple-A Columbus, he ended an emergency outing on July 29 with a grand slam and an ejection: He fired a bullet in frustration over a ducking batter’s head.
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When many remember 2009’s Lou Marson, they opine about the hitting potential of the organization’s future catcher. His top average before the trade was .294 for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Ultimately, he found his high end as a backup receiver, but his current projection is Triple-A depth after missing most of ’13. He recently inked a minor league contract here, and he’ll be in Clearwater this February.
In Jason Donald’s case, he fulfilled his predicted job as a utility infielder until last season. He recently signed a minor league agreement with Kansas City for a spring opportunity after playing for Triple-A Louisville (Cincinnati). If he only becomes Royals’ inventory in Omaha, he is one step closer to retirement or foreign baseball.
After a sparkling 2010 at Double-A New Hampshire, Kyle Drabek–the centerpiece of the three-player package for Roy Halladay–earned a position on Toronto’s five-man staff. Unfortunately, his 2011 was a disaster that continued even after a demotion to Triple-A Buffalo. Again, calamity struck in ‘12 with a second Tommy John surgery. He had been enjoying his best MLB summer with a 4-7 mark and a 4.67 ERA. However, last September’s return was forgettable; therefore, he’ll need a healthy, excellent March to win a rotation slot.
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Michael Taylor is a good example of reaching your limits at Triple-A and not sticking in any major league capacity. With each passing tour, he finds himself only as farm-system depth. He should look into non-American baseball to earn more money. Maybe, succeeding elsewhere will translate into another major league shot.
Before the swap, Travis d’Arnaud was at Single-A Lakewood, where he batted .255 with 13 homers and 71 RBI. Two years later, he blossomed at New Hampshire, and again in ‘12 he hit over .300 at Triple-A Las Vegas. Shamelessly, Amaro even tried to reacquire him last offseason. However, the Blue Jays and the Mets have disabled him in three of the last four summers, and he struggled in New York after his promotion. In conclusion, the highly touted catcher will get every chance to produce if he can avoid the injury bug.
Of the seven prospects who went to Cleveland or Toronto, the most interesting one was d’Arnaud for Halladay: The backstop was the most successful player the Blue Jays received. Ironically, getting RA Dickey for him has so far been a disappointment, and it could become worse. On the other hand, Dickey could have a comeback, while d’Arnaud could experience difficulties, physical or athletic.
The careers of Carrasco, Marson and Donald are on a downward trajectory. For now, while Taylor endures Triple-A ball, Drabek and d’Arnaud pursue their professional dream. However, to date none of the seven has produced a solid MLB 162. The prediction here is that Drabek or d’Arnaud will experience decent results at the top level.
In Philly is the keeper who slowly climbed the depth chart and achieved a full year as a regular plus his first All-Star notch. His defense will be average but his arm will gain the opposition’s respect. While he continues to adjust offensively, Brown will improve 2013’s numbers. He will be the best trade the red pinstripes did not complete in Orlando.
Five summers ago, Drabek went 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA at Reading in 2009, and Cody Asche played his first Single-A ball in Williamsport two campaigns later.
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