Thursday, January 20, 2011

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2011 Giants Top 50 Prospects- #4 Gary Brown

#4 Gary Brown, OF. BD: 9/28/1988. 6'0", 170 lbs. B-R, T-R.

College(Cal State Fullerton): .438/.485/.695, 20 2B, 8 3B, 6 HR, 32 SB, 5 CS, 210 AB. Rookie AZL: .182/.333/.227, 2 SB. Short Season: .136/.259/.227.

Gary Brown was the Giants first round draft pick in 2010, #24 overall, out of Cal State Fullerton. Brown was having a tremendous season before breaking a hand near the end of the season. As you might expect from a Scott Boras client, he signed shortly before the signing deadline of mid-August and thus only got into a total of 12 professional games, too small a sample size to draw any conclusions at all. As for a scouting report, Brown is a smallish player with tremendous speed. Some scouts rate his speed an 80 on a scale of 80. His speed enables him to play ++ defense in CF due to his tremendous range. Although his arm isn't premium, he makes accurate throws and makes good decisions. On offense, he is a line drive/gap hitter with limited power potential. The striking thing about his junior season in college was the lack of walks. He actually had more HBP's(10) than BB's(9). Some analysts have pointed to this as a concern, especially since he projects to be a leadoff hitter at the MLB level.

OGC has pointed out that Brown drew some walks his freshman year at CS Fullerton when he hit just .292 and his walk rate dropped as his BA rose. Again, he drew some walks in his first professional experience as he struggled to make contact, so he does seem to be able to adjust his approach depending on the level of success he's having in hitting the ball. He also augmented his OBP by getting hit by a lot of pitches in college. Whether that is a projectable skill remains to be seen.

For some reason, the comp that keeps popping into my head is Dan Gladden. Someone suggested Reggie Willits of the Angels. If his college experience is any indication, he should be a better hitter than either Gladden or Willits. I figure that he is going to be a 2 WAR player on defense alone making him very valuable if he is able to hit any better than replacement level, not a tall order.

I debated long and hard between Brown and Peguero for #4. They are very similar players and I actually think Peguero has more power potential. What it came down to is I think Brown is the Giants CF of the future while Peguero will have to make it as a corner OF where he might not have quite enough power. I got to thinking that maybe I should have ranked Brown ahead of Thomas Neal because of the CF vs Corner OF thing. I expect Gary Brown to be the starting CF in San Jose in 2011.


  1. I don't see the lack of BB's as a big concern yet. When you hit .438, why would you go up to the plate looking to take walks? He obviously handled college pitching with ease last year and knew if he swung the bat he would have a good chance of getting on base. I am not speaking from any stance of expertise, but if the guy is 80 speed with limited power potential, I would imagine pitchers weren't nibbling on corners deep in counts.

    Just a random question, who was the last Giants player you can remember who had legitimate 80 speed?

  2. I have reserved excitement for Brown, but the more I hear about him, the more I think Torres may be our LF before too long, with Peguero ultimately replacing him there.

    As for the last Giant player with 80 speed, I think we have to go back at least 15 years to Donnell Nixon, and he was never a starting player.

  3. Dr. B, nice comp on Gladden... I was thinking the same... smallish, right handed hitting, fleet centerfielder, with line drive gap power, who didn't walk a whole lot either.
    But I agree with you that Brown has the potential to be a better player than Gladden at bat, in the field and on the bases, and I hope he shows the same kind of grittiness that made Gladden a winner and such a fan favorite.
    Calsnowskier, I don't have any scouting reports to back it up, but I would think Neon Deion surely would have rated an 80 for speed.

  4. Looking ahead to 2014, I have Neal lined up for LF, Brown in CF and Peguero the frontrunner for RF but Jarrett Parker or Roger Kieschnick as possibilities too. You'd like to see at least one of the OF's hit lefthanded, at least against RHP's. By 2014, RafRod and Chuckie Jones should be in the upper minors too.

  5. I think that either Brown or Peguero is our CF of the future and whoever doesn't win the position will get traded. It just doesn't make sense to move a CF out of position to the corners where their value drops significantly. Maintain their value by including them in a trade -- possibly for another prospect who plays a position in which we're weak (SS, 3B, any pitcher?)

    I think your right to put Neal over Brown as he's closer to the majors and has a very steady track record that is a very good indication of major league success -- especially with the bat. Brown is much more of a risk, although is a higher ceiling prospect. I don't know if Neal will ever be more than an above-average corner OF, but Brown might be an all-star.

    As for the speed, didn't Darren Ford have 80 speed? The BA guys said that they thought he was the fastest person in all of baseball at one point.

  6. Brown didn't just draw some walks, he got enough that his OBP for his freshman, soph, and junior seasons were in the ballpark of each other, and pretty high. In Cape Cod too.

    Brown should be one of the fastest players in baseball because he reportedly gets to 1B as fast as any of the fastest LEFT-handed hitters - he is right-handed, and thus be that much faster going from 1B to the other bases than the LHH's.

    That will mean that he will get to many more balls that other CF would not be able to get to and better cover Death Valley in right-center field. And be able to reach more of the bloop hits that might fall in front of other CFers.

    I don't know how power translate from college to pros - not well apparently because all the experts said that Posey would not hit for big HR power despite his junior season breakout - but Brown had the best (or second best) ISOP in his conference in the last 8 seasons, which included Evan Longoria as one of the leaders in OPS (not sure Longoria or Kurt Suzuki was #1 or not) during that period.

    So I would think that even if he is unable to hit for true power in the pros, with his speed, he will pick up a lot of doubles and triples, particularly in the gaps we have at AT&T, and earn a high SLG and ISOP that way.

    Dan Gladden is a nice comp, though I would think that Brown is an improvement over him in all ways: offensively, defensively, basestealing. I think Brown potentially can hit for a nice average, walk enough with that average to be above average OBP, get a lot of doubles and triples (double figure triples every year), steal a lot of bases to get in scoring position a lot more than that, play gold glove caliber defense in CF relying on his speed. I think the latter two are a given already, the key is whether he can hit for enough average and then walk for enough OBP to make his speed pay off. I think he can.

    For me, I think I would put Brown 3rd, Neal 4th. Mainly because Brown most probably could start in the majors on and off just with his speed and defense, needing to figure out his hitting, while Neal will probably need to show the complete package before he will get the call up to be a starter, even on and off.

  7. I don't have any idea who is better but I really think that Neal's speed and defense are being slighted. He has hit at least 40 doubles so that eliminated a few SBs. From watching Neal, Buster, Brandon and Gillaspie I really believe that Neal has the best eye at the plate and has the speed and defense to play CF. IMO

  8. I agree with your original choice of Neal over Brown. Brown has not proved anything yet(though I am excited to see him play) and Neal had a good year in Augusta, a Spectacular year in San Jose, and a very very good year last year considering the park. Seriously, that place kills our prospects, and the fact that Neal was able to maintain decent pop with lots of doubles, a very good average for the place, and good walk/strike out rates makes me excited to see what he can do in Fresno. Hope to see Brown on the San Jose Giants and tear in up!