Brown Quietly Excelling For Sacramento

After an eventful 2006 season that saw him be recalled to the major leagues three times, Jeremy Brown has had a much calmer 2007 season. Brown was dropped from the 40-man roster earlier in the season, but despite that disappointment, he has quietly put together a fine season for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. We spoke to Brown about his season, his time in the big leagues and more…

Thanks to his starring role in the book Moneyball, Jeremy Brown has always been the focus of a good deal of attention by prospect watchers. Brown's career path through the minor leagues has been an unusual one since he was drafted in the first round in 2002. Brown was at Double-A Midland at the start of his first full professional season, well ahead of most players in his draft class. However, he stayed in Midland from 2003 through the 2005 season.

In 2006, Brown was finally given a chance to compete at the Triple-A level, and he put together a decent season, hitting 13 homers in 274 at-bats. Brown also had the opportunity to compete at the major league level for the first time. He was recalled to Oakland three times during the 2006 season. In his first two stints, Brown didn't get an at-bat. However, he got some playing time in September for the A's. In 10 at-bats for Oakland, Brown collected three hits, including two doubles.

"It was a dream come true [to be in the major leagues]. It is what you play for. I had the opportunity to go up there a little bit and I played well, so it was a great experience," Brown said.

At the start of the 2007 season, Brown was sent back to Triple-A Sacramento, where he was sharing time with current A's catcher Kurt Suzuki to start the season. Brown got off to a slow start with Sacramento, posting only a .235 average and a 738 OPS for the month of April. That start may have been a factor in the A's decision to remove Brown from the 40-man roster in May. He cleared waivers and returned to Sacramento shortly after he was designated for assignment.

Despite the disappointment of being removed from the roster, Brown has kept a positive attitude.

"You can see it as a set-back, I guess, but all you can do is just come out here and work hard and see what happens," Brown said.

Since being designated for assignment, Brown has responded by putting together one of his best offensive seasons of his career. Through July 27, the Alabama alum was batting .287 with an 853 OPS. Brown was especially strong in May and June, posting OPSs of 853 and 991, respectively. Brown is only three RBIs away from matching his season total of 40 from last year and his slugging percentage is 30 points higher than last season.

In addition to his improvements at the plate, Brown has worked hard to become a better defensive catcher. Although he is still stronger as a hitter than as a defensive catcher, Brown has made improvements over the past few years with his game calling and pitch blocking.

"I just try to come out and work on every aspect of my game each and every day," Brown said.

"I think I have gotten better every year. That is your main goal is to just try to get better each season."

Thanks to the myriad injuries that have impacted the River Cats' roster all season, Brown has been pressed into duty at first base and at third base on numerous occasions this season. Although his long-term future is behind the plate, Brown believes that the added versatility will only help him down the road.

"I played third in high school and first base my first two years in college, so it wasn't like a new thing for me," Brown said.

"It is good to be a little versatile and to be able to play a few different positions to get in the line-up."

People who know Brown only through his portrayal in Moneyball might be surprised by his role as one of the River Cats' most out-going personalities. Brown and fellow catcher J.D. Closser have helped to keep the River Cats' clubhouse loose. Many people around the River Cats have called this year's team one of the loosest and most fun in recent memory.

"The team has been playing really well. We have a good group of guys and I am having a blast," Brown said.

The A's catching depth chart has changed dramatically this season. At the start of the year, Brown was sharing time with Suzuki in Sacramento while veterans Jason Kendall and Adam Melhuse were the A's catchers. Over the past few months, Melhuse and Kendall have been traded, Closser has been acquired, Suzuki has been promoted to Oakland and top prospect Landon Powell has been promoted to Sacramento and then felled by a season-ending injury.

Despite all of the dramatic changes to the A's catching depth chart, Brown says that his focus has remained entirely on competing for the River Cats.

"You've got to be focused on what you are doing here. You can't be focused on what is going on up there. If something happens, maybe one of us will get called up, but you never know what is going to happen," Brown said.

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