Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Corey Brown, OF

It hasn't been easy for Corey Brown to put up good offensive numbers since he turned pro. He began his career in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League and has spent this season in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. Despite those challenges, Brown has put up impressive numbers. Ryan McGrady spoke to the Kane County outfielder this week about his approach, playing in pitcher-friendly leagues...

When Corey Brown was selected in the supplemental first round last season by Oakland, he was advertised as one of those rare players with both power and speed. Brown has lived up to those expectations thus far in his short professional career. Last season, Brown posted a .545 slugging percentage and swiped five bases for short-season Vancouver in the Northwest League. Along with teammate Danny Hamblin, Brown became the first player to reach double-digits in homeruns for Vancouver since 2004.

This season, Brown has continued to hit for power, and he has also added more speed to his game. Through Tuesday, Brown was leading the Midwest League in extra-base hits and had 14 homeruns and 12 stolen bases. He was recently a starter in the Midwest League All-Star game, during which he collected two RBIs.

Ryan McGrady caught-up with Brown before the Cougars' game on Tuesday…

Ryan McGrady: You have been on the fire the last couple of weeks (hitting .381 with three homers and 10 RBIs in your last 10 games). What has helped you get so locked in?

Corey Brown: I don't know. I think in BP I've been working on stuff. I go out there everyday with our hitting coach Hass Pratt and I've kind of felt like I've found my zone, I've found my stance, I found where I feel most comfortable and it's kind of helped me lately to hit the balls that I think I've been missing for most of the first half. I mean, I have still struck out quite a few times, but instead of missing balls or fouling them off or striking out as much as I was, I think I'm starting to get more base hits out of them.

RM: You still had a very good first half and made it to the Midwest League All-Star game. What was that experience like? It must have been nice to contribute to the win with your two-run single.

CB: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was a great experience. Even the homerun derby was a lot of fun, too, with all of the fans. There were a ton of people there to watch and it was a lot of fun to be there and meet a lot of guys you play against. You get to create a lot of relationships with guys so down the road when you play against them you always have someone to talk to and joke around with. It was a really fun time.

RM: What has been the biggest adjustment for you coming from Oklahoma State and going up to pro ball?

CB: I think probably the main thing would be just playing everyday. I mean, you play a lot in college, but pro ball I think is more of a grind. Your body has to physically stay in shape to be able to get through so many long days. Everyone I think goes through that moment where you have a day or two where you just feel like you've got nothing left. I think it's been a lot easier this year than last year in Vancouver.

Mentally, you've got to just be able to hang in there, you've got to be able to teach yourself to get through some of those days. I think it definitely helped this year just in talking to people and asking ‘How did you get through this when you were first starting off?' So far it hasn't been too bad and I'm hoping I don't hit that wall so I'm able to stay healthy and stay confident for the rest of the year.

RM: You mentioned being in Vancouver last year. What's been the difference between hitting in the Midwest League this year compared to the Northwest League last year?

CB: I think the pitching obviously is a little bit better. I think the parks kind of play somewhat the same. I think both of them are a pitcher's league. It's not the easiest, I mean you hear about the Florida League or down in Texas, those leagues I think you hear it's more of a hitter-friendly league, but I think with the weather conditions and how the wind sometimes blows, it's a little harder to get some balls out.

Sometimes you hit one good and it ends up being caught, but the pitching is definitely a little better. You have more guys that throw more breaking ball pitches for strikes. You see more off-speed in certain counts where I think last year you might be guaranteed a fastball in a certain count, but it is an adjustment I had to make and so far I've been doing alright trying to adjust to those changes.

RM: What aspects of your game have you been focusing on this year and what do you feel are your biggest strengths are right now?

CB: I think one thing that I've improved on that is one of my better aspects is my defense. I think it has gotten a lot better for me. Our infield rover guy kind of helped me out a little bit just even being ready before the ball is being put in play. I think that has helped me some and I think I've been able to improve on that.

I also think hitting the ball the other way. I think in college and a little bit last year I've always been kind of a dead-pull hitter where this year, I've been able to hit a lot of balls to left field. Even some of my homeruns, four or five of them, or maybe more have been to left field. I think that is something I have been trying to work on obviously I've gotten a little better, but I still think I have a lot of improvement.

RM: You said you've improved in the outfield. Do you prefer playing centerfield or do you like play a corner spot more?

CB: It doesn't matter to me. I mean in college, I mostly played right so I'm comfortable wherever they put me. Obviously I just want to play everyday so it doesn't matter, but I think for any outfielder, centerfield is probably always the one you would want to play because you're out there and you're kind of leading the outfielders, you get more action out there whenever the ball is hit instead of only getting a certain amount of time when the ball is hit to you in the corner. So I like centerfield a lot this year and I think if they want to and if I could, I would like to play centerfield as long as I can.

RM: What players did you enjoy watching while you were growing up and are there any players that you tries to pattern your game after?

CB: Jim Edmonds has always been my favorite player because he's left-handed, he's a centerfielder, and he's kind of just someone that you always see getting after it. He's always giving it all he's got, he's a great player to watch defensively, and he has always been a pretty good hitter too. Jim Edmonds has always been someone that I've loved to watch.

RM: What are your goals for the second half of this season going forward as you try to make the jump up to the next level?

CB: I would love to continue hitting like I am right now and staying comfortable in the box. Obviously, my number one goal to reach or something I would love to work on is cutting down on my strikeouts. Every time I talk to someone they ask me and since day one that's been my one concern is trying to cut those down. Obviously, it hasn't helped too much, but I think being able to walk a lot has helped me with the ratio and everything. One of these days I will learn to not chase too may pitches, but I still feel good. I'm going to have those days where I will strike out, but I guess that's something sometimes that comes with being a power hitter.


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