Sunday, February 14, 2016

Brown back in the big leagues

Late Thursday night when Ruben Amaro Jr. announced that Shane Victorino was headed to the disabled list with a strained hamstring, the general manager pretty much rejected the idea that top prospect Domonic Brown would be called up to replace him.

Brown back in the big leagues

The Phillies have called up Domonic Brown from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Phillies have called up Domonic Brown from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Late Thursday night when Ruben Amaro Jr. announced that Shane Victorino was headed to the disabled list with a strained hamstring, the general manager pretty much rejected the idea that top prospect Domonic Brown would be called up to replace him.

Friday afternoon, when the news of Victorino's trip to the 15-day DL became official, the Phillies announced that Brown would be promoted from triple-A Lehigh Valley to replace him on the roster.

The Phillies also optioned reliever Scott Mathieson to Lehigh Valley and recalled David Herndon. No immediate announcement was made about righthander Joe Blanton, who is also expected to go on the disabled list with an elbow injury that forced him to be scratched from Thursday night's start against Colorado.

Earlier in the day, assistant GM Chuck LaMar talked about how Brown's development will continue even when he reaches the major leagues.

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"We think he can play in the major leagues right now," LaMar said. "But he's a player who is going to continue to develop over the next year or two. I know expectations are high for him as individual, but he's a young man who has gone right through the minor-league system, so some of his development is going to have to take place at the major-league level."

It has been an interesting last 10 months for Brown. Last July, he was rated the top minor-league prospect in baseball shortly before being called to the big leagues for the first time in his career also because of an injury to Victorino.

After getting considerable playing time in his first two weeks in the big leagues, he was relegated mostly to bench duty from the middle of August through the end of the season and in the postseason. He hit just .210 in 35 games, then struggled in a brief winter ball stint, going 2-for-29 in nine games with Escogido in the Dominican Republic.

His problems at the plate lingered into spring training as he went 0-for-15 to start the Grapefruit League schedule then fractured the hook of the hamate bone on his right hand after picking up his first hit. The injury required surgery.

Since returning, however, Brown has been a hot hitter again, batting a combined .350 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 16 games at single-A Clearwater and Lehigh Valley. LaMar said Brown is a confident player right now.

"Domonic believes he is a major-league player," LaMar said. "Domonic in the past and now is confident in his skills. There is no doubt in our mind that he is made up the right way."

Herndon, who had a 9.28 ERA in 11 appearances with the Phillies earlier this season, was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA after being demoted to Lehigh Valley earlier this month. He struck out nine and walked one in nine minor-league innings. Mathieson had pitched three scoreless innings, including two Thursday night, for the Phillies.

If Blanton is placed on the DL later today, Vance Worley is the most likely pitcher to replace him in the starting rotation.

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