Know Your Opponents: Gary Brown

If the baseball thing doesn’t work out for Gary Brown, maybe he can fall back on writing.  On Wednesday, the 23-year-old outfielder found himself in the visiting clubhouse at Waterfront Park, working on his penmanship in a letter of appeal to a fine from the Eastern League following a recent ejection.

Typically, the use of a pen isn’t considered to be one of the best tools that the San Francisco Giants top prospect — according to Baseball America, that is — has.  In short, he won’t be joining me in the press box any time soon; the ink will be about him, not by him. 

The publication rates his speed as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and grades him out as a 60 overall, which projects him as a regular first-division player according to them.  This season, Brown is hitting .247 through his first 71 games, and has stolen 19 bases after an eye-opening 53 swipes last season in High-A.

I got to spend a few minutes outside the clubhouse with Brown and asked him about that speed, trade rumors, the Futures Game (in which he’s pictured in one of my photos, to the left) and a lot more.  My chat with Richmond Flying Squirrels outfielder Gary Brown…

Mike Ashmore: The San Francisco Giants took you with the 24th overall pick back in 2010…what do you remember about that day?

Gary Brown: “It was awesome.  It was a really good feeling.  I’d have to say it was nice to be recognized for your hard work and that someone else saw it and they wanted to take you with their first pick.  It’s an unbelievable feeling.  I remember we were at Regionals, and I had a broken hand so I couldn’t play.  As sad as I was about that, that made my day.  So I was smiling from ear to ear the rest of the day.” 

Ashmore: Did you go around where you were expecting to?

Brown: “There was some talk, you know how it goes.  Your people behind you kind of have an idea and they kind of let you in so you don’t get disappointed or anything.  I had been drafted out of high school.  It wasn’t quite similar, but I was told I was going to go somewhere that I didn’t go, and it kind of broke my heart.  I didn’t have any sights set on anything this time, so it was a good feeling.”

Ashmore: Getting picked to go to the Futures Game last year, that must have been a pretty good feeling as well…

Brown: “That was a lot of fun, too.  It gave me an opportunity to have a big league experience.  You get on a plane, you go fly somewhere and you’re in a big league facility with a bunch of other guys.  It was a lot of fun, and it was really a great opportunity.  I got to start that game, and it was an awesome experience.”

Ashmore: I was out there covering that game last year, and to see the level of talent out there was really impressive to me.  But actually being a part of it, I’m kind of curious if there was anyone there who really stood out to you amongst your peers…

Brown: “Wil Myers put on a show during BP.  I remember just watching him, and he was backspinning some balls.  For as young as he is and for how much power he has, it was pretty impressive.  It kind of made me jealous, watching that these young guys with all this power, I was wishing I had a little more.  (Laughs) But, Wil Myers did stand out to me in batting practice to me for sure.”

Ashmore: Zack Wheeler came in here about two weeks ago, and we were talking about the day he got traded and how he sent a text to you asking if you’d been traded, but it ultimately ended up being him.  What do you remember about that day?

Brown: “The same thing, really.  There had been a lot of talk before, but we’d done a good job of not thinking about it and just playing ball.  I think it was the day of the deadline, and I got a message from him on Twitter that I still have on my phone, and he was like, ‘Hey, did you just get traded?’ And I was like, ‘No, not that I know of.  Why, what’s up?’  And he’s like, ‘OK, it’s always for the best either way.’  It obviously worked out for him, and he’s doing really well.  I’m happy to see that.  I really don’t want to face him right now.”

Ashmore: It’s starting to approach that time of year again…does the thought of a trade pop up in your mind at all?

Brown: “No, I think going through it…it’s kind of like the draft.  I went through the draft in high school, so the second time I was really more around of what goes on and I was more mature about it.  I think it’s the same way with the trade deadline.  Last year, I wasn’t really sure of what to expect or what was going on, and I was kind of nervous.  This time around, I can kind of see that it’s not a bad thing and it’s not anything to get down on or anything.  It’s something that just happens.  We all play baseball, and everyone wants a job and there are a lot of jobs on other teams.  It’s not the worst thing.”

Ashmore: We talked about power being a standout tool at the Futures Game before, but speed seems to be the tool that everyone knows you for.  Was there a point in your life or your career when you realized you were faster than the other guys?

Brown: “Luckily, I guess I’ve been blessed since I was young.  Both my parents were fast, and I was an outdoors kid, always running around.  Most of my life, I’ve been able to run a little bit and it’s definitely been a part of my game my whole life.”

Ashmore: How difficult has it been to apply that speed properly in baseball?  There’s a difference between just having pure speed and being able to utilize it well…

Brown: “I’m still learning.  Baseball is a game of adjustments, and each level is different.  Each place you go, you’ve got to make your adjustments and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Ashmore: What kind of adjustments?

Brown: “Really just staying calm on the bases.  It’s different.  With starting blocks in track, you know the buzzer is going to sound sometime soon.  With baseball, you don’t know when the pitcher is going to lift his leg…he can hold it, he can pick over.  It’s not just going one way.  You really have to stay calm, and that’s something I’m working on.”

Ashmore: It would be hard for anyone to match the season you put up last year…are you satisfied with the way things have been going at Double-A this year?

Brown: “No, I don’t think anyone would be satisfied.  But there’s a point where you’ve got to realize it’s a job and you still have to show up every day and you’ve got to be patient.  Just like in life, things may not working out the way you want them to be, but you’ve still got to wake up and go to work, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Ashmore: Is there any sort of goal you’ve set that you’d want to reach by the end of this season?

Brown: “I just want to feel good.  I just want to get in a good rhythm and mechanically, I’ve been off.  I’m trying to work on that.”

Ashmore: I’m sure you’ve seen all the rankings and books that have you as the top prospect in the Giants organization…I guess for a lack of a better way of putting it, does any of that matter to you?

Brown: “I don’t necessarily care, because that’s someone else’s opinion, I didn’t say that.  As far as I’m concerned, I want to be happy with where I am.  Right now, it’s not where I want to be.  Like I said, it’s work to get to where I want to be.  That’s just a tribute to the good year and how I felt last year, and I want to get back to that.”

Ashmore: Do you feel like you’re on the right track in terms of being able to turn things around this year?

Brown: “Oh yeah, definitely.  I think it’ll be coming here soon.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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