Brown Adapting to the Next Level

Eric Brown, the B-Mets tall right-hander, has started the season under rough conditions, but with a deep assortment of pitches he feels confident he can turn things around. Now that Brown has gained momentum in recent starts, he hopes through hard work the pattern can continue.

Binghamton Mets right-hander Eric Brown fell to 2-4 Wednesday night, but he allowed just two runs for a second consecutive outing in his final start of an otherwise dismal month.

Brown, a 24-year-old, 6-foot-6 starting pitcher in his third season of pro ball, was drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2005 draft out of Wingate University. Despite his size, Brown has always relied more on control and movement than velocity, and that may have contributed to his early struggles in 2008, his first season at Double-A.

Brown finished 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA at St. Lucie last season, bringing his impressive career totals to 23-13 with a 3.28 ERA in 41 games started and 72 total appearances. But he allowed a total of nine runs in 7 1/3 innings in his first two starts with the B-Mets, and in his worst start of the season, against Connecticut on May 3, was knocked around for nine runs on 11 hits, leaving without escaping the fifth inning. His ERA sits at 5.88 through nine starts, and at 6.85 for May.

Welcome to Double-A, kid.

Well, sort of: it's not that hitters are that much more talented than what Brown saw last season, but umpires are calling things a little differently.

"For me, the biggest difference, and I've talked to a couple guys here like [Jake] Ruckle about this, is the strike zone," Brown says. "The zone's a lot smaller. Other than that, the guys hit mistakes more often."

Because Brown isn't overpowering, mistakes are the one thing he has to limit. He throws a heavy sinker, a slider, a changeup and a four-seam fastball, sticking primarily to the sinker and the slider. As that type of pitcher, it's important that Brown remember not to try to do too much.

"Brown is a strike thrower, he's got plus movement and it's a matter of being consistent down in the zone and hitting the spot," says B-Mets pitching coach Ricky Bones. "Sometimes with a guy like him, he tries too do too much with the movement."

"Brownie's a sinker-ball guy, everything is kind of based off of that," says B-Mets catcher Rafael Arroyo. "I stay aggressive with Brownie's sinker, get some ground balls. He's got a really good slider and a changeup, and we mix in a curveball every now and then."

Three starts ago, before Brown started to put it together, he allowed five runs on 10 hits to Erie (though came away with a win). As could be expected, he was just making too many mistakes, and the Seawolves weren't letting any get by.

"I don't know, I had good stuff," Brown says. "Every time I made a mistake they hit it and they hit it hard, just making mistakes when I can't afford to. I got to be as close to perfect as can be with my stuff."

Brown's recent success might be due to some mechanical adjustments. He was having trouble getting fully extended and finishing his pitches, which left them lifeless.

"Everything's flat when you're not getting extended," he says. "The sinker doesn't sink, it stays flat over the middle. I can't locate my slider; the changeup does the same thing, it just stays flat. It's kind of tough to have good stuff when I'm not getting extended out there."

Strikeouts will never be a large part of Brown's game: he entered this season with 205 in 310 2/3 innings, and has just 28 in his 49 innings this season. But, he always limits walks, with no more than two in an outing this season and 78 total for his career. Additionally, Brown has proved durable thanks to his size—he threw 143 2/3 innings last season, fifth-most in the Florida State League.

After allowing four hits in 5 1/3 innings his second most recent outing, Brown worked into the seventh against Portland on Wednesday, striking out a season-high six, walking just one and allowing five hits.

Though 2008 is Brown's first season at Double-A, he did have a comfort zone through his early struggles and now in better times, with several teammates from last season also making the jump.

"We got a pretty close group of guys, everybody's pretty much friends," Brown says. "The players I played with last year—it's nice to stay with the same guys."

After the 2008 season, still a ways off, Brown may play winter ball for the first time. He was unable to last off-season as he finished up his degree in sports management.

"I wanted to get it out of the way so later on down the road I could play winter ball and not worry about that, just get it out of the way," Brown says. "Now my off-season's free, it's devoted to baseball pretty much."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nBinghamton Mets right-hander Eric Brown fell to 2-4 Wednesday night, but he\r\nallowed just two runs for a second consecutive outing in his final start of an\r\notherwise dismal month.
\r\n
\r\nBrown, a 24-year-old, 6-foot-6 starting pitcher in his third season of pro ball,\r\nwas drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2005 draft out of Wingate\r\nUniversity. Despite his size, Brown has always relied more on control and\r\nmovement than velocity, and that may have contributed to his early struggles in\r\n2008, his first season at Double-A.
\r\n
\r\nBrown finished 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA at St. Lucie last season, bringing his\r\nimpressive career totals to 23-13 with a 3.28 ERA in 41 games started and 72\r\ntotal appearances. But he allowed a total of nine runs in 7 1/3 innings in his\r\nfirst two starts with the B-Mets, and in his worst start of the season, against\r\nConnecticut on May 3, was knocked around for nine runs on 11 hits, leaving\r\nwithout escaping the fifth inning. His ERA sits at 5.88 through nine starts, and\r\nat 6.85 for May.
\r\n
\r\nWelcome to Double-A, kid.
\r\n
\r\nWell, sort of: it's not that hitters are that much more talented than what Brown\r\nsaw last season, but umpires are calling things a little differently.
\r\n
\r\n\"For me, the biggest difference, and I've talked to a couple guys here like\r\n[Jake] Ruckle about this, is the strike zone,\" Brown says. \"The zone's a lot\r\nsmaller. Other than that, the guys hit mistakes more often.\"
\r\n
\r\nBecause Brown isn't overpowering, mistakes are the one thing he has to limit. He\r\nthrows a heavy sinker, a slider, a changeup and a four-seam fastball, sticking\r\nprimarily to the sinker and the slider. As that type of pitcher, it's important\r\nthat Brown remember not to try to do too much.
\r\n
\r\n\"Brown is a strike thrower, he's got plus movement and it's a matter of being\r\nconsistent down in the zone and hitting the spot,\" says B-Mets pitching coach\r\nRicky Bones. \"Sometimes with a guy like him, he tries too do too much with the\r\nmovement.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Brownie's a sinker-ball guy, everything is kind of based off of that,\" says\r\nB-Mets catcher Rafael Arroyo. \"I stay aggressive with Brownie's sinker, get some\r\nground balls. He's got a really good slider and a changeup, and we mix in a\r\ncurveball every now and then.\"
\r\n
\r\nThree starts ago, before Brown started to put it together, he allowed five runs\r\non 10 hits to Erie (though came away with a win). As could be expected, he was\r\njust making too many mistakes, and the Seawolves weren't letting any get by.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know, I had good stuff,\" Brown says. \"Every time I made a mistake they\r\nhit it and they hit it hard, just making mistakes when I can't afford to. I got\r\nto be as close to perfect as can be with my stuff.\"
\r\n
\r\nBrown's recent success might be due to some mechanical adjustments. He was\r\nhaving trouble getting fully extended and finishing his pitches, which left them\r\nlifeless.
\r\n
\r\n\"Everything's flat when you're not getting extended,\" he says. \"The sinker\r\ndoesn't sink, it stays flat over the middle. I can't locate my slider; the\r\nchangeup does the same thing, it just stays flat. It's kind of tough to have\r\ngood stuff when I'm not getting extended out there.\"
\r\n
\r\nStrikeouts will never be a large part of Brown's game: he entered this season\r\nwith 205 in 310 2/3 innings, and has just 28 in his 49 innings this season. But,\r\nhe always limits walks, with no more than two in an outing this season and 78\r\ntotal for his career. Additionally, Brown has proved durable thanks to his size—he threw 143\r\n2/3 innings last season, fifth-most in the Florida State League.
\r\n
\r\nAfter allowing four hits in 5 1/3 innings his second most recent outing, Brown\r\nworked into the seventh against Portland on Wednesday, striking out a\r\nseason-high six, walking just one and allowing five hits.
\r\n
\r\nThough 2008 is Brown's first season at Double-A, he did have a comfort zone\r\nthrough his early struggles and now in better times, with several teammates from\r\nlast season also making the jump.
\r\n
\r\n\"We got a pretty close group of guys, everybody's pretty much friends,\" Brown\r\nsays. \"The players I played with last year—it's nice to stay with the same\r\nguys.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter the 2008 season, still a ways off, Brown may play winter ball for the\r\nfirst time. He was unable to last off-season as he finished up his degree in\r\nsports management.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wanted to get it out of the way so later on down the road I could play winter\r\nball and not worry about that, just get it out of the way,\" Brown says. \"Now my\r\noff-season's free, it's devoted to baseball pretty much.\"
\r\n
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