Domonic Brown still trying to live up to the hype

When Domonic Brown broke for a fly ball under the bright Florida sun, he took the scenic route and played a single into a triple. That was capped with an unnecessary dive, which injured his right thumb. It was another reminder of how much has changed for the one-time top prospect.

Two years ago, you may as well have cued Randy Newman’s soundtrack to “The Natural” when Domonic Brown stepped to the plate.

The lean, lanky 24-year-old turned heads by hitting .538 in his first four Grapefruit League games. He appeared to be cut from the same mold as former Mets star Darryl Strawberry. Brown pulled the ball with authority to right, inside-outed pitches to left and legged out infield singles.

But Brown has yet to meet the hype in the big leagues. The Phillies hoped he was ready for the majors last season, but he broke the hamate bone in his right hand early in spring training. When he returned, Brown was inconsistent at the plate and had trouble defensively.

Last October, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he would keep Brown in triple-A all season to refine his skills. Despite all of that Brown remains upbeat.

“I feel good about everything,” Brown said. “I’m positive about everything. I’m in a good spot. I had some bad breaks, like with the hand but I’ll be fine.”

Brown makes no secret of his desire to make the big club and start in left field.

“I want to be with the team this year,” Brown said. “I’m going to go out and play as well as I can. That’s all that I can control.”

Brown has added 20 pounds of muscle since 2010. He is aware that if he is sent back to triple-A, he could re-emerge.

“I know all of the scenarios,” Brown said. “I can’t control what is decided for me. What I can control is to play like I’m capable of. That goes for me at the plate and in the field. If I do what I’m capable of, I should be fine.”

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