Where Does Dom Brown Go From Here?

Where Does Dom Brown Go From Here?

Fans cheer as left fielder Domonic Brown (9) rounds the bases after hitting a home run Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Is the secret out on Domonic Brown yet? You would think so since he was named Player of the Week and moved into a second-place tie with 13 home runs in the National League, yet his fireworks display in the Phillies’ 4-3 win against the Red Sox on Wednesday still could have gone overlooked around baseball.

Dom’s bombs give him five in the Fightins’ last five games, a feat that might get a 25-years-old-in-a-big-market ballplayer’s picture somewhere on ESPN.com. Cracking the top stories can be tough though, especially on a night where Baltimore’s Chris Davis hits his Major League-leading 18th and 19th dingers of the year, two more players bash three, Jered Weaver returns from the disabled list for Anaheim, and the Subway Series is going on in the Big Apple.

Rest assured, the Sox know what Brown is all about. That’s why it will be interesting to see if they change their approach to the lefthander at all in the final game of the series, because how Dom rolls with the punches has become the story from here on out.

[watch Brown bash four homers against the Red Sox]

Philadelphia Phillies' Domonic Brown, right, celebrates with Erik Kratz after Brown's home run off Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara in the eighth inning (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

As Brown draws an increasing amount of attention, opposing pitchers will begin to treat him with more respect. As he moves up in the lineup, there will be increasing pressure to produce. Ultimately Brown has to prove he can continue to adjust and grow over the course of a full season, not just knock the cover off of the ball for about a month.

Who knows whether May of 2013 will mark the beginning of his meteoric rise to All-Star leftfielder, or if all of this is just one hell of a tear. While Brown’s future is certainly looking up, it’s going to take a long time for his career trajectory to bear out. We can however make some educated guesses about where he might be heading in the short-term.

On-base percentage should rise

By far one of the most amazing aspects of Brown’s breakout month is the fact that he hasn’t drawn a single walk yet, and there are only two games left to go. Anybody else would (rightly) be getting killed for this, but when that slugging percentage is at .644, people tend to overlook some stuff.

The way he’s swinging the bat, the “problem” is likely to correct itself anyway. If Brown continues to be this great of a threat, hurlers will be careful not to serve “his” pitch. Opposing managers will give the sign to pitch around him or potentially give him the intentional pass in certain situations.

Brown will eventually have to rein in the free-swinging assault that’s putting him in the map to some degree before he can take the next step in his development, but by then he may have instilled enough fear in the opposite dugout so that he can afford to be more patient at the plate. His .298 OBP should only rise as a result.

Could fall off 40-HR pace

All of a sudden Brown is on pace to hit 40 home runs this season, which is absurd. Only six players eclipsed the 40 mark in 2012, the highest number for a single season since 2006. Needless to say, it would be quite an achievement.

This is one of those areas where we may want to keep expectations in check. Somewhere in the 30s is probably reasonable, but keep in mind he was sitting on eight less than a week ago. No matter how good he is, Brown isn’t going to keep on mashing bombs every night. His pace becoming slightly more modest will also be a natural byproduct of opposing pitchers bringing a more cautious approach to their encounters. If/when he starts picking up more freebies, that’s fewer opportunities to crush balls over the fence.

Perhaps he is just warming up, and a 40-home run guy is what Dom was meant to become all along, but there is a long way to go before that milestone comes into full view.

Remain at No. 6… for now

There has been a lot of discussion about moving Brown up to third in the everyday batting order, and Charlie Manuel probably needs to at least consider out of necessity anything that might help the Phillies’ 27th-ranked offense.

Stop! No! Don’t do it!

Right now you don’t want Dom Brown thinking about anything other than what he’s been doing already. Whatever his mindset is right now, it’s working. Don’t make a single change that might mess with the hot streak he’s riding.

Besides, we’re still in an evaluation period of sorts for Brown. How is he going to react when a slump does come along? Will he be able to demonstrate patience as pitchers adjust their strategy towards him? Is he ready for the added pressure of hitting toward the top of the order on a daily basis?

If he keeps this up, Dom is going to be up in that three-hole before long. It’s only been a month of very good baseball though, and once the secret is out, there are going to be new challenges for him to overcome. What we’ve been watching from Brown over the past few weeks is encouraging to say the least, but let's wait and see if he can sustain it.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration --- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos.

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Latest on a fatal traffic crash in Arizona involving a Dallas Cowboys bus (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

Four people were killed when a Dallas Cowboys bus collided with a van in Arizona.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr says all the fatalities in the Sunday crash were passengers in the van.

Mehr didn't say what led to the crash on U.S. Highway 93 in western Arizona.

Dallas Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple says the bus had no players, only staff members on board. They suffered "bumps and bruises."

According to the Department of Public Safety, the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman.

The bus was en route to Las Vegas for an afternoon fan event where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

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6:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the Dallas Cowboys says passengers on a team-owned bus escaped serious injury in a collision with another vehicle that killed at least one person in Arizona.

Team spokesman Rich Dalrymple says people on the bus suffered only "bumps and bruises" in the Sunday crash on U.S. Highway 93.

Dalrymple didn't say if any players or staff were onboard the bus.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, in western Arizona.

The agency said it was a fatal crash but couldn't immediately confirm the number of people killed.

The bus was heading to an afternoon fan event in Las Vegas where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.