Brown rewarding Phillies' patience with breakout year

Domonic Brown recently completed a stretch in which he became the first player in Phillies history to hit eight homers in eight games. He is healthy and having a breakout season.

PHILADELPHIA - Domonic Brown digs into the batter's box looking to force the pitcher to give him just one pitch he can handle.

When he gets it, Brown often hits that ball a long way.

The talented Philadelphia Phillies left fielder just completed a stretch where he became the first player in franchise history to hit eight homers in eight games en route to clubbing 10 in 12 games. He topped the National League with 19 homers through Sunday.

The key to his success has been discipline at the plate, working the count in his favor and taking advantage of the best pitch to hit. Sometimes, you only get one. He's not missing.

"It's a capitalize game," Brown said. "You have to make adjustments when they make adjustments on you."

In a lineup that features former National League MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins and five-time All-Star Chase Utley, Brown is carrying the offense. He's a main reason why the Phillies won 15 of 24 to get above .500 for the first time all season. However, they then lost three in a row at Milwaukee over the weekend to fall back to 31-33 heading into tonight's series opener at Minnesota.

"He's selective. He's very good at watching the pitchers, picking up things and making adjustments," manager Charlie Manuel said. "With the talent he has, he has tremendous power, he works the count real good and he gets good pitches to hit. He's been a real joy to watch. He's capable of a high average and a lot of home runs."

Brown was the NL Player of the Week for two straight weeks and NL Player of the Month for May after hitting .303 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs.

"It's a huge accomplishment," Brown said. "I'm very proud and pleased. But I'm still focusing on doing what I have to do, and that's improve and win games."

With each mighty swing, Brown is gaining more recognition. Still, he didn't even rank in the top 15 outfielders when the first All-Star votes were announced.

That should change soon. Brown's popularity is quickly on the rise.

"There have been a lot of text messages, the social media stuff - Instagram and Facebook - but I don't tweet," Brown said of the attention he's getting. "I don't even have cable in the house, so I don't watch ESPN or anything. I watch a lot of movies."

A matter of style

But even if he doesn't know what his fans are up to, they know about him.

Brown is mashing baseballs and having fun doing it - perhaps too much fun. He annoyed some players on the Miami Marlins for showboating after smacking a three-run homer during a win last week.

Brown hopped out of the batter's box after launching his drive, took a little skip toward first, made an exaggerated turn around the bag, stutter-stepped over it like Rickey Henderson and finished off the trot with a choreographed handshake with Howard and a Japanese-style bow.

Brown wouldn't discuss his celebration, saying it's an "inside thing" between him and Howard.

"We just bow to each other," Howard explained.

Brown didn't seem to care that opposing pitchers may retaliate by hitting him.

"If I get drilled, then I'm on first, right?" he said.

Brown always had swagger. When he first came up to the Phillies in 2010, people noticed his stylish wardrobe that included vests and even a fedora. He's a sharp dresser, though not outrageous.

That's just part of his personality. It won't change whether he's hitting homers or striking out.

In fact, you can't tell after a game whether Brown went 4-for-4 with a couple homers or 0-for-4 with four Ks.

"I feel like he's confident and he's learned a lot in the last two years," Manuel said. "He went through what a lot of players go through, learning how to play in the major leagues. He made up his mind what kind of player he wants to be, what kind of player he expects to be. He stays focused on the day to day, he stays even keel."

The tall, slender Brown, a left-handed hitter and fielder, was selected by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 2006 amateur draft. By 2009, he showed five-tool ability. That's why general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to part with Brown when the Phillies dealt several prospects in trades to acquire Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence.

Brown was the guy the Phillies wouldn't let get away. Finally, it's paying off.

Brown hit .299 with 14 homers and 64 RBIs while stealing 23 bases at single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading in 2009. He batted .318 with 15 homers and 47 RBIs in only 65 games at Reading in 2010, continued his torrid hitting at Triple-A and then got called up to the Phillies later that season.

But he didn't impress in his brief stint and was left off the postseason roster. Brown entered spring training in 2011 with a chance to win a starting job. He was considered the game's fourth-best prospect by Baseball America behind Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Jesus Montero. But he broke his hand and started the year on the disabled list. Brown struggled when he returned and the Phillies eventually acquired Pence to play right field.

Brown came to camp with an opportunity to win the starting job in left field last year but thumb and knee injuries hampered him. He didn't play his first game with the Phillies until July 31, and again struggled. He had a tough time defensively, too.

That's why many considered this a make-or-break year for Brown. He scoffed at the notion in spring training.

"Make or break? I'm 25 years old," Brown said then.

Brown had an outstanding spring and he's baseball's hottest power hitter now.

"Dom came into camp this year a more confident guy, a guy who believes in his abilities," Amaro said. "Playing at this level, that's three-quarters of the battle is believing in yourself."

So what's been the difference?

"Just getting a chance to play regularly," Brown said matter-of-factly.

Now, that's confidence.

Can't get enough High School sports? Get the latest scores, game highlights and analysis delivered to your inbox each week!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.