Prior to being selected as the Phillies’ 3rd round draft pick this year, Aaron Brown was a dominant college pitcher. In 17 starts for Pepperdine in 2014, he posted a 13-1 record along with a 1.95 ERA. Brown’s efforts at the plate were just as impressive, as he sported a .314 average with 13 homers, 49 RBI and a .908 OPS.
Citing his power and bat speed, the Phils see Brown’s highest ceiling as an offensive player. After playing roughly two months with short-season Class A Williamsport, Brown was promoted to full season A level Lakewood to close out the season with a couple weeks remaining on the schedule. Lakewood manager Greg Legg, a baseball lifer, praised Brown’s intensity and asserted that three of the hardest hits balls he saw all season were off the bat of Brown during the short time he was with the club.
In 61 games in the minors, after making his pro debut, Brown tallied a .268 average while slugging four home runs and driving in 21 runs.
Earlier this month, prior to the end of the minor league season, I spoke with Brown, who sees his own future as an outfielder, about his draft experience, how college prepared him for the pro ranks and plenty more. Read ahead for the full interview.
-What was your draft experience like this year?
It was a great experience. Just getting picked by the Phillies in the third round was pretty awesome. And then, you know, I just wanted to come out here and started learning, kind of developing as a person and as a player and so far, that’s been the experience. So, it’s been a lot of fun learning from the guys, playing with these guys as well and it’s just been a great time so far.
-Were the Phillies among teams you expected could pick you or were they a surprise?
Yeah, they were definitely on the radar. And through my advisers, I had heard a couple things from the Phillies early on and they were always one of the teams that I knew were pretty interested in me and it turned out they called my name and it worked out pretty well.
-How did you celebrate when you got the news you were selected?
Well, for me, it was practicing at TCU before super regionals. And it was a lot of fun. I heard the news, was feeling really excited for the opportunity and just went out there and spent the rest of the day with my teammates and coaches and enjoyed that last part of the college career.
-How did playing at Pepperdine prepare you for a career in the pro ranks?
It prepared me very well. That’s a great program out of southern California. The coaching staff there did a very good job of allowing me to develop as a player and, you know, just teaching me the game, the ins and outs, and I felt very prepared to come out here and compete.
-What thoughts can you share about your half season playing in Williamsport and Lakewood?
Williamsport was a great place, honestly. Just going out there and having that fan base to start, they get between 2,000 and 3,000 a game, that was a great atmosphere. I had fun there in my first couple months of pro ball, and had the opportunity to come up (to Lakewood) and play in front of 5,000 people every night is pretty sweet as well. Playing (in Lakewood) is just another step up and is part of the journey. It’s been a great experience thus far.
-You mentioned your coaches in college helping you. What can you share about the coaches you’ve encountered with the Phillies thus far?
They’ve been awesome. Just very open and honest with me, allowing me to work on some things and giving me a couple tips here and there and a lot of it is the mental side of the game. Everyone here has the physical ability and the talent. But, you’ve got to understand the mental side of the game and that’s where I’ve been growing the most.
-When was the first time you thought to yourself that you could possibly have a career as a professional baseball player?
Out of high school, when I was being talked to by some of the pro teams, I thought, ‘Okay, this is an opportunity in front of me’, so I knew that if I put my time towards it and really focused on it that I would have an opportunity. And the dream has always been to play pro ball and now, I’m here and I’m working towards it and it’s been a very really experience.
-If you were asked to scout yourself, what would you say?
Very aggressive player. Loves to try to make plays. You know, just 110% all the time. Goes out, plays hard every day, loves the game, has a passion for it. That’s what I would tell you.
-What players did you admire before turning pro and were they pitchers or offensive guys?
I’ve always been a fan of Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and just recently Mike Trout, as he’s been proving what he can do at the big league level. Those are guys I admire and I try to model my game after and try to watch them and learn from them too. Those are definitely some of the guys.
I do watch Mike Trout a lot, his swing and the way he plays the outfield and I pick up things here and there and kind of make it a part of my own game. Watching him has allowed me to be a better player.