Domonic Brown Headed to Triple-A

The Phillies today promoted top prospect Domonic Brown to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Here is what Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar had to say earlier today:

Question: You always say the player will tell you when he is ready to get moved up. Why was he ready?
Answer: He’s been impressive all year. He came into Major League camp (in Spring Training) with the right attitude toward improving his skills, working hard every day, finding that consistency. Consistency is the real difference between a Double-A prospect and a successful Major League player. There are a lot of Double-A prospects that have the physical ability to play in the Major Leagues, but it’s when they become consistent with their results and their mental approach to the game. People don’t understand how hard it is to play 162 games and then the postseason at the Major League level. Those guys have to be consistent every day, and Domonic came into camp with that mindset. When we set him to Minor League camp he didn’t miss a beat. When he went to Double-A he started out great then had a couple of injury setbacks. His approach to the game was as impressive as the results.

Question: Fans hear about his talent, they see his numbers in Reading and they wonder, why can’t this guy be in the big leagues right now?
Answer: Truly, he’s an athlete that continues to refine his baseball skills every day. Even though he grew up playing the game he also grew up playing another game, and was pretty good at it. Anytime you deal with a dual sport player with Domonic’s athleticism, usually it just takes time for him to grow into the game. Just continue to grow in all areas of the game, and he has done that. He has shown no sign of leveling off. We use the word high-ceiling a lot when talking about prospects. But Domonic Brown, even though he’s putting up good numbers in Double-A, he’s just now starting to scratch the surface on his ceiling as a potential Major League player. You don’t want to rush him, but you also want to challenge him. It’s a very fine line. We’ve tried to do that with him. We’ve tried not to rush him, but challenge him and that’s why the move to Triple-A we feel like he’s going to be challenged. And yet he’s not going to be over his head and I think he’ll respond. Even though he’s 22 going on 23, this is a player that we’re going to look up at and he’s getting better at 23, 24, 25, whereas a lot of guys are about as good as they’re going to get. I think Domonic is going to continue to get better over the next two or three years. We don’t see someone, ‘We better hurry up and get him to the Major League level because he’s developed and he’s about as good as he’s going to get.’ This kid’s got a chance to get better at all phases of the game.

Question: It seems like the Phillies called up Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels at the right time, despite calls for their promotions much earlier. How much of a fine line is that?
Answer: Sometimes it pans out, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s not from a lack of effort or thought on how you move people throughout a system, especially that jump to the Major Leagues. Sometimes a jump to the Majors is dictated on needs at the Major League level. I know from my time in the Minor Leagues that sometimes you have to rush a kid that you’d like to give more time to. In other cases you hold on to them a little too long. Somebody told me a long time ago, ‘You’ve got to pick that fruit while it’s ripe.’ Sometimes it’s time to make a move and you don’t have an opening to do it. We always have the mindset to do what’s best for the player’s development and in the long run that will be what’s best for the organization. In Domonic’s case, we’ve tried to always keep in mind, ‘What’s going to make this kid the best player possible? What’s the right timing to challenge him?’ So far so good.

Question: What has surprised you about him this year? What has he improved upon?
Answer: Overall, his defensive play has improved. However, he still has some lapses defensively that is more a lack of concentration than anything. Overall, game in and game out, he’s a better defender than he was at this time last year. However, I think he still has to make improvements in that area because he’ll have a bad game. At the Major League level we’re trying to win a championship and we can’t afford that type of lapse, so I think that’s something he needs to continue to improve upon. And then he has very good hand-eye coordination. I think when he does play in the Major Leagues you’re going to see a hitter that’s capable of playing against left-handed pitching. Maybe not right off the bat, but as his career unfolds you’re not going to have a guy that platoons. You’re going to have an everyday player. He goes to the opposite field, and he has power to the opposite field, which is very good at our ballpark. I think he’ll fit at our ballpark well. A lot of good things about him, but he’s got a challenge him because he’s not a finished product. I think Triple-A is going to challenge him.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

12 Comments

See you in September, Domonic!

phan: September 2011, maybe. Read between the lines (or in the lines) and you’ll see that they’re looking at him the same way they looked at Howard. God forbid they “rush him” to the big leagues and he hits .265 (ten points better than Ibanez) and they have to deal with a “failure” in the majors.
This is an organization that can’t decide whether guys are ready or not. Hence, the Gavin Floyd trade, delaying Howard to sign Thome (for the new ballpark) and keeping Utley on the bench because they didn’t want to move Polanco to third because they were paying Bell $5.4 million to play third. Now, where is Polanco?

There is a serious lack of foresight in this organization with regard to where they see their so-called prospects a year or two down the line. They’ll continue to make excuses for why Brown isn’t “ready” and keep him in the minors while veterans struggle and the team could be helped by some young talent. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

I agree that trading Polanco and retaining Bell was a fiasco. It is either slightly ahead or slightly behind trading Scott Rolen rather than admitting a mistake and firing Larry Bowa. Ironically, by trading Rolen, Polanco entered the picture. And, with Polanco in the picture, Utley was held back. At least the Phillies had the good sense not to compound the fiasco exponentially by trading Utley.

Howard is another matter altogether. How were the Phillies to know that he would become the ballplayer he has become when they signed Thome in December 2002? Howard had just completed the season in A ball and was promoted to A+ ball in 2003. The next year 2004 he shot through AA and AAA and was a September call up. At this time the Phillies realized they had a problem. Luckily for all concerned, except maybe Thome, the Phillies needed Howard in May 2005 and, as they say, the rest is history. I just do not see how the Phillies could have done anything differently. It was fortuitous that Thome went down and the Phillies needed Howard when they did. I just don’t see where the Phillies delayed Howard except not having him on the opening day roster to begin 2005 about a seven week delay to the start of Howard’s major league career.

pherris: The Thome signing was a marketing ploy to aid the opening of the ballpark in 2004. In trying to build a fan base, they overreached and signed him to a 6-year deal. 6 years. For a ballclub that is constantly whining about cash and their self-imposed salary cap, it was a bit extreme. It isn’t so much that they delayed Howard, but they wasted money paying Thome’s salary while he was in Chicago.

How could they know? They are supposed to know. That’s why they have scouts and tons of front-office people. They are supposed to warn them about signing players to stupid contracts (Eaton et al) that they will have to pay in their absence.

Now, they have another $12 million to pay Ibanez next season, and if they’re going to trade him and move Brown up, they will undoubtedly have to pick up most of that money. It’s just bad business for an NL team to sign a 37-year old to a 3-year deal.

mukeman: I do not disagree with anything you say except that I do not believe the Thome deal did all that much to impede the progress of Howard. And when the Phillies had to act by trading Thome, they did. And, I thought of that as a watershed in Phillies history by the very fact the Phillies were willing to eat a large chunk of Thome’s contract. I thought the Phillies were getting it together with a lot of prospects in the farm system. Then along comes Junior. Little did I know that excessive contracts which the Phillies would have to eat is part of his MO. He was fixated on Halladay. Would the Phillies have been any worse off this year if they had retained Lee and taken their chances the next several years? I don’t think so. Besides, the high draft picks the Phillies would have received if the Phillies had lost Lee to free agency could not have been anything but better than what they received from Seattle. The one thing we know for sure that Junior has been successful at thus far is gutting the farm system.

I think a lot of fans saw the Halladay deal as a wash when it came to replacing Cliff Lee. They’re almost the same pitcher, except Halladay came with more hype, for some reason. The big mistake Junior made was in tendering Blanton. Granted, he has been good at times, but his salary could easily have gone toward paying Lee. But enough rehashing the past.

Eating huge chunks of contracts has a detrimental effect on whom you can sign with the money left over.
Part of the reason teams have farm systems is to deal players and re-stock with the absurdly large draft. Obtaining Halladay has cost them big in terms of players, when one thinks of the process that got him here. What they are left with is Domonic Brown and some other guys. What troubles me is that their entire ML roster is in its 30s and I wonder where the bodies are going to come from to fill the holes left by the aging superstars. Certainly not from free agency, since they are already spending at their limit for the 30-plus-year old’s they have.

I’ve said it before: This is the oldest starting group in franchise history. I just wonder about their plan.

Mule and Pherris: YOu are discussing the two aspects of the Phillies that have made them winners the past years. On one hand they are willing to lay out big money to players they think will help them. On the other, they are not afraid to eat these salaries if the player turns out to be a bust, or if a better option is available. Yes, their scouting has been questionable and has led to some bad signings, (Eaton, Ibanez for 3 years, etc) but as they say, notihing ventured, nothing gained.
AS for the gutting of the farm system, I think the overall feeling is that the current team is good for this year and next. Only in 2012 will the phillies need to restock at MLB level. THerefore, We should look at who in the farm will be ready by then, and not this year, or even next year. With that as the yardstick, I don’t know how good the farm is, but I know we have a few pitchers, a few Outfielder, ****, and possible a 1B who may be ready to add youth to the team.

lineup for today

rollins
howard
utley
victorino
werth
gload
ibanez
schneider
polanco

As Whitey used to say, “Oh brother!”

fij: The Phillies have $86.9 million in contracts for 2012. This includes 7 players and a $1.5 milion buyout of Lidge but doesn’t include either Jimmy Rollins nor Jason Werth. Unless the Phillies can live with a payroll in the $15o to $16o million range either Werth or Rollins or both are gone by 2012. There would be a lot of holes to fill from a depleted farm system. I believe to the extent Junior calls the shots, he is a product of his generation which requires only one thing – instant gratification. To us older fans, accustomed to a WS appearance every 25 years or so, a plan to have one every 4 or 5 years would be a blessing.

There is no question that when the Phillies signed Thome that he was one of the premier power hitters in MLB. And he didn’t impede Howard’s progress at all, as he probably wasn’t ready to play on the ML level until the season that he was ROY. I don’t think there is one prospect that they traded in the Lee/Halladay deals who would be helping them today. Maybe Donald, considering the JRoll injury issues, but he is hardly setting the world on fire and Valdez is a better defender anyway. The players who could be helping today are the players they gave up in the Garcia and Blanton trades, and they pre-dated Amaro. But the Blanton trade helped the team in the season they won the WS, so I am OK with that one. No one will know the repercussions of the Lee/Halladay deals for a couple of years. And if the Phillies happen to win or even just play in another WS in the meantime, nobody should complain.
And muleman, bringing up Domonic Brown in September is hardly rushing him. The minor league season will be over and they can expand the roster. Just having him hang out in a ML clubhouse will be beneficial. The only impediment at this time is that he is not on the 40 man roster and they would have to release somebody.

Pherris, think of what you just said. In the 2012 season the Phillies will need a right fielder (Dom Brown, perhaps) and **** (Freddy Galvis-who is supposed to be the best defensive SS since Bowa).
I tend to think that Rube DOES have a plan and has the minor leagues set to fill the needs of the team when they come, He’s not storing major talent just to have it, but using talent to trade to aquire missing pieces for the team now (pitching). OF all the prospects traded the last year, only Marson would have made the team out of spring training ands only as the # 2 catcher. Donald would have been called up when JRoll went down, but Castro and Valdez did fine. everyone else is a long long way from teh big leagues.

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