Brown Looks to Lead in St. Lucie

He began last season with Hagerstown where he made 20 appearances but only six as a starter. He broke out in the second half of last season after his advancement to Brooklyn. Now, after earning an Opening Day spot in St. Lucie, Brown hopes continued success will result in a further climb up the ladder.

The 6-foot-6 hurler's promotion to St. Lucie has allowed him to assume the role of staff leader. In ten starts last season at Brooklyn, Brown posted a 7-1 record, 1.16 ERA and a 55/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in ten starts. His statistics opened eyes in 2006 and he has carried the momentum into spring training this season.

Coaches and other members of the organization hoped he could regenerate his performances in camp; Eric Brown lived up to their expectations.

"I felt great (in camp). Each time I went out, I did what they asked me to do. I got to my pitch counts. I don't think I had any bad outings. My changeup continues to get better. My focus is sharp and I feel great going into the season," he said.

His ironed out mechanics are the largest difference between this spring and the previous one. More mature and refined, Brown was able to focus directly on the progression of his pitches, particularly his changeup. His tall release point makes him lethal against all hitters, but he needs to sharpen his changeup to be more effective against right-handed batters. Additionally, the improving changeup now raises his repertoire to five pitches.

"Last year, I didn't really have a changeup, so guys were just keying on my breaking pitches. Well, I should say I had the changeup, but it really wasn't worth throwing. This spring, I worked hard on mixing it in with my other pitches," he said.

Brown's height not only gives him an advantage in regards to his release point, but it gives his sinker, his most consistent pitch, a bigger bite. It allows him throw his sinker on a more downward plain. Shorter pitchers naturally begin at a more even plain with the batter making it tougher for them to get down on the ball.

Aside from his repertoire, Brown concentrated on the intangibles of his game, notably batter and lineup management. He worked closely with his pitching coaches and catchers on the examination of hitters and statistical breakdowns. He admitted that in prior years, he did not engage himself much in hitters when he was not on the hill that day. That has changed through more education of game charts.

"It's really about getting to know the hitters, the charts and spending time reading hitters that I will eventually face. Spending time with the catchers and learning about hitters is also important, so that in the game we're always on the same page whenever a certain guy comes up to the plate. The biggest thing that will help me is the charts so I can see how much success I've had against each batter," he detailed.

Brown looks ahead to an effective season which will continue his raise his stock. If he mirrors his performance of last season, he will align himself for another promotion to Binghamton next season.

Repertoire: Fastball, Sinker, Slider, Curveball, Changeup

Four-Seam Fastball: Although he does not throw overly hard, his four-seamer is still efficient. It usually sits 88-91 miles per hour and he can work it on both sides of the plate. While he may not get too many swings and misses from it, he can spot it for strikes, whether as a first pitch or when his behind in the count.

Sinker: His sinker is his most proficient pitch. It is effective against lefties and righties. It is not his out pitch as he throws it the majority of the game. The pitch typically runs 86-90 miles per hour. He lacked complete consistency with it last season but worked out the kinks during spring training.

Slider: It is his self-described out pitch. It breaks heavy and hard to right-handers. It could be doubly lethal if and when he is able to bust it inside on left-handers. Reservations exist because it leaves him open to hanging it over the plate. The slider comes in at 78-81 miles per hour on average.

Curveball: His curve is nothing fancy. He offers it as a "show-me" pitch to hitters. He can throw it for strikes when he needs it but does not expect to fool anyone. He throws it in the low to mid 70's. Brown does not work on improving it much, but knows it's there when he needs it.

Changeup: It's still the pitch that needs the most work. He keeps it in the high-70's to low-80's. Although, given the average speeds of his fastball and sinker, it could not hurt to take a little more off the changeup so a larger gap lies between it and his fastballs.

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