At the very least, we won't have to read anymore that top Phillies prospect Domonic Brown has never played a game above double-A. This weekend, the 22 year-old outfielder will leave the Reading Phillies for the last stop on the minor-league ladder, joining the Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the triple-A International League.
Brown has nothing left to prove in Reading after putting up a .318./.391/.602 line in 265 plate appearances. The Phillies sent Brown to Reading this spring with a limited but important to-do list: show more power and improve on defense. On the power front, Brown has already set a career high with 15 home runs in 236 at-bats, topping the 14 he hit in 395 at-bats between Clearwater and Reading in 2009. And reports are that his positioning and routes to fly balls have caught up to his howitzer arm in the field. A look at Brown's splits offers further evidence of his consistent excellence through the first three months of the 2010 season.
So what happens now? I always thought that Brown was likely to get a September callup, either to strengthen the team's bench for the stretch run or get some playing time if their playoff hopes had faded by then, and to get acclimated to major-league life under either scenario. That seems even more likely now, barring injury. Is there a chance we might see Brown before then, and in a larger role? An injury to any of the Phils' outfield regulars could get him to Philadelphia, but that remains the most likely scenario. While Raul Ibanez hasn't looked like the Eater-of-Worlds all-star we fondly recall from early 2009, he's not a total black hole in the lineup either, and there's at least some reason to hope his best 2010 work is yet to come. Still, the presence of a five-tool performer at the next level down and just a short ride on the turnpike away will be in the minds of the team's decision-makers as well as the guys in uniform.