Outfielder Corey Brown is vying for a spot on the Nationals' 25-man roster this spring. The 27-year-old showed well in last season's call-up. He got attention with a nice series in Milwaukee in late July.
Brown went 3-for-9 with three runs, one double, one homer and one RBI on July 28-29. His first major league hit was a home run,a solo shot over the left-center field wall in Miller Park, contributing to a 4-1 win over the Brewers.
The Oklahoma State product appeared in 19 games last season for the Nationals, batting .200 (5-for-25) with two doubles, one homer and three RBIs.
In 126 games for Triple-A Syracuse, Brown hit .285 (138-for-484) with 22 doubles, nine triples, 25 homers, 18 stolen bases and 71 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .365 and his OPS .888.
No, that is not a typo. Twenty-five home runs. The man can crank it.
"He had a great year," Syracuse manager Tony Beasley said of Brown. "He hit for average and for power. He played solid defense at all three outfield spots, which is what he will have to do up there. He ran the bases extremely well. He did a lot of things right."
The lefty-hitting Brown will look to crack a very talented major league roster for the Nationals. Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore and Eury Perez are the utility outfielders for the Nats, and Brown would most likely have to beat out Bernadina to make the roster.
Brown is a long shot, Beasley said, not because he isn't a quality player, because he is. It is about how good the Nationals have become in depth at the major league level.
"For Corey Brown, it is just a matter of opportunity right now, in my mind," Beasley said. "I guess it is a good problem to have, we have a lot of good players. We got good really fast. That is a good problem when you have depth. You have guys that can play at the major league level. I think Corey is probably in that situation. Anything can happen in spring training. Barring an injury, he becomes an extra outfielder or something like that. You have to keep your options open."
Beasley said Brown is not only a very good player, but he also has the right mental makeup to work through a season and be patient, concentrating on getting better and waiting for his chance. He certainly took advantage last season in that July call-up, when Bryce Harper had a stomach virus.
"If he has to come back to Triple-A, he will just continue to mature and stay in tune mentally and not get frustrated because he is not at the major league level," Beasley said. "That will be his biggest challenge this year - to stay excited about playing the game. Because who knows if he is going to be on the major league level or not? He has got to understand that."