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Brown starting to show off his power
July 14, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
Without seeing the batter or the swing, it would have been easy to mistake Aaron Brown's home run Sunday evening against Tri-City for one which came off a right-hander's bat.
The baseball came off the bat like it was shot out of a cannon. It had the same kind of carry and trajectory of the missile's Zach Green peppered all over Bowman Field a year ago.
The difference is Aaron Brown hits left-handed.
“He hit it like a right-handed pull hitter,” Williamsport Crosscutters manager Shawn Williams said. “Normally in that count, you're looking to pull a ball. But it was a fastball up and away and that's exactly how you hit a pitch like that.”
Sunday was the second day in a row Brown homered after having gone nearly two weeks without an extra-base hit. The Williamsport Crosscutters' center fielder had shown just about everything you'd want to see out of a third-round draft pick to that point.
His 26 hits are fourth-best on the team, and he's flirted with hitting .300 for much of the Crosscutters' season. He's the hands-down choice to play center field in an outfield which contains three players capable of playing the position at a high level. His throw from over 300 feet away from home plate two weeks ago hit catcher Deivi Grullon chest high at home plate, nearly gunning down a runner trying to tag up on a fly ball. And his 4.1 to 4.2 second average time to first base out of the batter's box makes him a slightly above average runner.
But the one thing Brown hadn't shown prior to Williamsport's weekend series against Tri-City was consistent power. He entered the series with just three extra-base hits all year and an isolated power rating of .066, where .100 is about average.
Things changed with two swings from Brown over the weekend, though. First was his home run Saturday night in a lop-sided loss. It was a titanic shot on a smooth and easy swing which flew over the left side of the scoreboard in left-center field.
The graphic on the scoreboard said it flew 386 feet, but it was easily a 420 or 430-foot shot.
Then there was Sunday's home run, the drive to left-center field, an opposite field shot which was every bit as impressive as Saturday night's.
“He's got some kind of bat speed,” Williams said. “Very plus bat speed. He puts on a show in BP and he's done it the last two nights with those two homers. It shows what he has and his ability to drive the ball.”
So it begs the question, for a player who has made as consistent contact as Brown has since coming to Williamsport, why has there been a power outage until this weekend?
It's a great question. One Brown didn't have the answer to, but also one which he wasn't very concerned with.
“The balls I drive are getting caught,” Brown said after Saturday night's loss. “I'm not frustrated because I can't do anything about that. The balls I drive are eventually going to fall. It's a short season, but we play a lot of games. I know they'll start falling and I know the power numbers will start climbing. I just have to keep trusting it and keep driving it and I'll be fine.”
In the two games against Tri-City over the weekend, Brown's isolated power climbed to .126. It's a better representation of the kind of talent the Pepperdine product exudes on a daily basis.
His OPS has climbed above .700 over the last two days and is now pushing .800. The couple positive days for Brown's power numbers show just what kind of impact player he can be for the Philadelphia Phillies in the future, but now he's looking for more consistency.
Even with a short, compact swing, Brown generates bat speed like nobody else on the Crosscutters' roster. It's the kind of swing you'd expected to create a high contact to damage ratio.
“It's weird because you'd think he'd have more (extra-base hits),” Williams said. “He has so many swings where he flies out deep to center, or flies out the other way because he's using the whole field. He's driving the ball, just maybe not getting the ball to fall for doubles.”
“All I can do is trust the process, but the results? You can't control that,” Brown said. “Trusting the process and trusting my swing is all I can do to have a successful season.”
BACK WITH A BANG
Drew Stankiewicz hit his first professional home run in Sunday night's 5-0, rain-shortened win over Tri-City. It was just his second game back after injuring his ankle during last week's series in Mahoning Valley.
It's an injury which Stankiewicz was sheepish to talk about following Sunday's win over Tri-City, but one he's learned from and one he's clearly recovered well from. But it's also an injury the Crosscutters' infielder would like to avoid.
See, following last Monday's win over Mahoning Valley, Stankiewicz jumped to celebrate the win with shortstop Emmanuel Marrero. But when Stankiewicz landed, he rolled his ankle. He missed four days of action before returning to the lineup Saturday night.
“I just jumped a little too high,” Stankiewicz said. “It's pretty embarrassing. I was so devastated because I was 3 for 3 that game, too. So having to sit for the next few days was frustrating.”
Manager Shawn Williams chalked it up to one of those strange things which happen during the course of a baseball season, and he said he doesn't want the injury to deter the team from getting excited about winning a ballgame.
What hurt more, though, was that interrupted Stankiewicz's progression at the plate. Prior to the injury, Stankiewicz, the son of former Major Leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, had recorded seven hits in his previous five games and his batting average had climbed to a season-high .235.
After an 0 for 3 night in Saturday's loss to Tri-City, Stankiewicz delivered the big blow Sunday with his three-run home run in the fourth inning to cap off a four-run inning for the Cutters.
“I saw the ball middle-in, waist high, and that's one of my favorite pitches and I hit it well,” the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder said. “I just tried to get the barrel to the ball and I was fortunate enough to get out of the park.”
“I think he can hit, I really do,” Williams said. “The last game before he got hurt he was 3 for 3, and (Saturday) he was getting his timing down. He's got the bat speed that he can do that, and that one went a long ways.”
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