Shane Victorino left Tuesday night's game against Arizona and all thoughts turned to Domonic Brown. There is no denying that Brown is the real deal and he will certainly play in the majors one day soon, but that day might not be Wednesday.
Keep in mind, that Brown just crossed the 100 at-bat mark at Triple-A right about the time that Victorino was going down with his injury. To put that in perspective, the last Phillies player to reach the majors with that low of a number was Ryan Howard when he arrived in 2004 and prior to that, it was Pat Burrell, who had 176 at-bats when he joined the Phillies. It took Chase Utley 464 Triple-A at-bats and Jimmy Rollins had nearly 500 at-bats at Triple-A before he was summoned.
None of that means that Domonic Brown won't be recalled if and when Victorino winds up on the DL. He is one of the pieces of the future of the Phillies and night after night, he shows that all of the hype that has been put out there about him is realistic. He has shown off all five of his tools in the minors and often makes the game look easy. But for the Phillies, they're not ready to close the book on the present. With Victorino's injury, Jayson Werth is now going nowhere and there are no guarantees that Brown is either.
Ben Francisco is swinging a pretty hot bat lately and has played as a regular in the majors when he was with the Cleveland Indians. The Phillies also have John Mayberry Jr. at Triple-A and he has also been swinging a hot bat with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Mayberry has now hit in 11 of his last 14 games and is hitting .362 (21-for-58) over that stretch. It also doesn't hurt that Mayberry has at least some major league experience. There is also something to be said against bringing a young player into a pennant race and the added pressure that would put on the player.
"I don't think Domonic would be the guy is someone went on the DL," said IronPigs manager Dave Huppert after Tuesday night's game. "I think if it was going to be a few day thing, it would be Mayberry." When pressed on whether Huppert thought Brown was ready for major league action, Huppert wasn't going to tip his hand. "I don't have to tell you guys anything about that," said Huppert. "I'll tell Ruben [Amaro Jr.] if he asks me."
There shouldn't be any concern about speeding up the arbitration process on Domonic Brown, since he wouldn't qualify for super-two status if he were added to the major league roster this late in the season. The only concerns are whether he's ready for the majors and how his presence might impact a club that has clawed their way back into the playoff picture after a somewhat shaky run in the middle of the season that seemingly dropped them to the fringe of being out of the race. It wasn't that long ago that GM Amaro said flat out that Brown wasn't ready to play in the majors. He hasn't specifically addressed the issue in the past couple of weeks, but it's unlikely that enough has changed to make him believe that Brown should be the guy coming to the Phillies.
Keep in mind that the Phillies might now turn part of their trade attention to finding a decent enough outfielder to add to the mix for their big league club.
Whether it's now, or next season, the addition of Brown to the current Phillies lineup would make them heavily left-handed. That's going to be a concern, at least until Raul Ibanez contract is up at the end of next season or he leaves Philadelphia through some other exit before then. Brown is currently hitting .311 against left-handers at Lehigh Valley and picked up a key hit Tuesday night against lefty R.J. Swindle when he smacked Swindle's second pitch high off the right-center field fence at Coca-Cola Park for a two-run triple.
"He hangs in there. He doesn't give ground at the plate," explained Huppert about Brown's at-bats against left-handers. "It doesn't matter what lefty's out there, he gets good swings."
Of course, all of this could be a moot point if Victorino's injury isn't severe enough to put him on the disabled list. Some players with strained obliques wind up being put on the DL, while others go day-to-day and return in a few days. Rest assured that the Phillies are going to be having a lot of internal discussions about what move they should make if, in fact, they have to put Victorino on the DL. But keep in mind, that there are no guarantees that Domonic Brown will be added to the roster to fill any immediate openings that may come up. Instead, fans may have to wait until September to get their first glimpse of Domonic Brown in Phillies pinstripes and because of the left-handed dominated lineup, there could even be some discussions over the winter about how to fit Brown into that lineup.