Brown, rated by Baseball America in July as the #1 prospect still in the minors, may not be quite the prospect that Jason Heyward is, but it’s not exactly a huge gap either. Although he was drafted in the 20th round of the MLB Draft in 2006, he would gone much higher had he committed to baseball (he was also a football star in high school). He has a tall, thin build that may make some people think of Darryl Strawberry, or even Dave Winfield. These aren’t invalid comparisons either – Brown has many of the same tools both of these players employed in their long, successful MLB careers.
Brown brings decent speed to the table, not in the style of Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury, but enough to get 20+ steals a year with ease. A career .296 hitter in the minors, contact is not a problem for Brown, although his plate discipline is a bit lacking. Brown’s power didn’t develop until his 2009 season, where he hit 14 HRs in 106 games, as many as he had hit in his 3 previous seasons. In his 96 minor league games in 2010, he hit 20 HRs, meaning his power is still developing. While he likely will only rarely reach 35 or more HRs in a season, he is a good bet for 25-30 in a given season. As far as fielding goes, Brown shows all the tools to succeed, and while his fielding itself is pretty raw, it is not enough of a problem that he’s a liability. His arm is also good, maybe not exceptional for a RF, but more than enough for the position.
Brown joins the ranks of other NL East stud prospects making their mark this season. Jason Heyward has been everything Atlanta could hope for and more so far, showing power, contact, decent speed, and fielding to become one of the best hitters on the Braves and earning a spot in the All Star game despite missing several games to injury. Stephen Strasburg is the other notable sensation, playing on the Nationals and absolutely tearing his opponents to pieces. In 9 starts this season, he’s 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and has 15 BB and 75 K in only 54.1 innings pitched. To say he’s lived up to the enormous hype before his arrival is actually selling him short – he’s passed it and left it in the dust. The other great prospect in the division is Florida’s Mike Stanton, ranked by Baseball America as the 3rd best prospect in baseball behind Heyward and Strasburg before the season began. In 41 games so far this year, the RF has hit only .221 with a .741 OPS, but has started to find his home run swing. Few if any prospects over the past few years have shown the raw hitting power as Stanton has, and he is a prime candidate to hit over 40 HRs a season in his career.How does Brown’s promotion affect the NL East? He provides a capable buffer for the Phillies against any negative effects from Shane Victorino’s injury, and is talented enough to help bolster the Phillies towards a playoff spot. With the Phillies having acquired Roy Oswalt for J.A. Happ and a pair of minor leaguers, they finally have a core 3 starting pitchers (Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels) to both reach the playoffs and fight to a 3rd straight World Series appearance. Right now, the 3 starting outfielders for the Phillies (Ibanez, Victorino, Werth) are all going to be in their 30s by the end of the year, and with Werth a FA at the end of the season, Brown gives the Phillies both a reason to try to deal Werth and a talented cornerstone to their outfield for years to come.