Silver linings have been few and far between for the Phillies this season. The Mike Adams signing is a bust. Roy Halladay may never throw another meaningful pitch. Cole Hamels is on pace for a 20-loss season.
But Domonic Brown is the best Phillies story of the first half. The easy-going former phenom has arrived. Brown, who hit his 20th homer of the season Tuesday night, is silencing doubters with his long balls, plus 54 RBIs and competent play in left field.
"I just felt so confident coming into this season," Brown said. "I made some changes. I cut down on my swing and went in with a good approach."
He also showed up to spring training in good health after injuries plagued his last two seasons. The can't-miss prospect went from the fourth-best prospect in baseball three years ago to a player on the bubble.
Charlie Manuel didn't guarantee Brown a thing in spring training but the quiet player who turned down a football scholarship at the University of Miami clearly earned a starting job in the spring.
"He has all the tools to be a real good player," Manuel said. "I watched him in the spring and I saw a different player. He was getting there. Everything was coming together. The last thing that arrives is the power."
Well, that arrived for Brown in May, who hit 12 homers but didn't draw a walk.
"Some people said that was a problem in his game but it isn't," a NL scout said. "He didn't walk in May because pitchers didn't believe he is that good. They challenged Brown and he made them pay. He's going to be a good one. He hits the ball hard against left-handed and right-handed pitching. I like what I see."
What's encouraging about Brown is that he is hardly satisfied. "I got a lot of work to do," Brown said. "I want to become a better fielder, a more disciplined hitter and just a better all around player. I don't want to settle for where I am now. I know I can do better."
First round nightmares
Dom Brown is a highly-touted Phillies prospect who appears to be panning out. But the Phillies had a number of first rounders that turned out to be complete failures.
1. Jeff Jackson » The fourth overall pick in 1989, he was the original Domonic Brown, a five-tool player, who had future star written all over him. But Jackson is perhaps the biggest bust in franchise history. The White Sox selected Frank Thomas with the fifth overall pick that same year.
2. Rip Rollins » The 23rd overall selection from 1978 was a can't-miss prospect who didn't make it past Double-A. Great name, but guess who was selected one round later? Cal Ripken, Jr.
3. Trey McCall » The 16th pick of the first round in the 1985 draft, McCall was supposed to be the heir apparent to Mike Schmidt, but he couldn't get out of Single-A ball.