Domonic Brown heats up

"I am still not 100 percent sold on the bat, but he has looked solid," a scout said about Domonic Brown. (Marc Narducci/Staff)

As the Phillies stumbled Tuesday to another listless defeat that dropped them under .500 again, something was happening 70 miles north. Domonic Brown smashed two home runs and a double, threw a runner out from left field, and made a diving catch.

And that was only in the first four innings of triple-A Lehigh Valley's rout of the Gwinnett Braves.

Brown's bat is heating up; he's hitting .415 (17 for 41) in his last 10 games with four home runs and 13 runs scored. The 24-year-old's batting average had dipped to .231, but this streak has bumped it to .282. Fifteen months ago, he broke his right hamate bone, an injury that typically saps power for about a year.

"For me, he's the same Domonic," IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg told reporters Tuesday following the game.

Of course, the "same Domonic" is a maddening player yet to realize his potential. One scout who watched Brown for the previous four days would agree.

"There's not much to love about his defense, but he has definitely swung it pretty well," said the scout, who requested anonymity to speak about another team's player. "I am still not 100 percent sold on the bat, but he has looked solid. Other scouts will say he looked better two years ago."

A lot has happened since then. The Phillies summoned Brown in 2010 and he dazzled in his debut. A injury stole playing time. He was recalled midseason, again, in 2011 and was ultimately supplanted as the starting right fielder by Hunter Pence. The Phillies moved him to left, and recently center for a week, before back to left. He spent most of this spring on the bench with injuries.

The outfield -- and his health -- remains his barrier to reaching the majors.

"His defense is somewhat a mystery to me," the scout said. "He seems so gifted athletically but he just doesn't break on the ball well."

He added: "The diving catch was a product of a bad jump. But the two bombs were impressive."

And therein lies the tantalizing talent of Brown.

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