Training Wheels Come Off for Dom Brown as Phils Continue in Washington

Training Wheels Come Off for Dom Brown as Phils Continue in Washington

In many ways, Tuesday marked the beginning of a fresh start for Phillies baseball, only minus the "start" for Domonic Brown. Called up from Lehigh Valley yesterday morning, Brown's flight to Washington was delayed, forcing Charlie Manuel to break out the old eraser and strike no. 9 from the lineup card before the game. Dom eventually arrived at the ballpark, but tonight he arrives in left field.

With Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence out of the picture, Ruben Amaro cleared the path for Brown to become a fixture in the club's outfield. Considered one of the top prospects in baseball as recently as a year ago, Brown's big league career to this point has been shaky, and the hype surrounding the 24 year old has waned. Now he'll be playing everyday, and it's time to sink or swim.

Brown dealt with injuries over the course of the season, but appeared in 60 games for the Iron Pigs in 2012, batting .286 with 33 runs, five home runs, and 28 RBI. Defensively, Brown moved from his signature right field, spending more games in left (43) and even in center (11) than right (4) for the first time since he's been in the organization.

In previous Major League stints over the past three seasons, Brown has appeared in a combined 92 games. He is a lifetime .239 hitter with 36 runs, seven homers, and 32 RBI. Last night he slapped a pinch-hit single in his first at bat of the year.

Who knows whether or not he's ready to make the jump full time -- if he ever will be for that matter -- but it's time to find out. From everything we've seen and read, Brown seems to have too much talent to fail, and we certainly hope that turns out to be the case. If nothing else, his progress lends a level of intrigue to the Phillies season going forward that otherwise might not exist.

Pitching Matchup

Vance Worley (5-6, 3.88) is on the hill for the Phils, and he's struggled some of late. His ERA has raised nearly a full point over his last five starts, over which he is 1-2 with a 6.42. Previously, Worley had only allowed seven or more hits twice all season -- he's done just that in four out of the last five. You have to wonder how much the bone chip is bothering him as this season wears.

The Nationals aren't necessarily the team to help him get his groove back, either. On May 5, Washington beat Worley with five runs off 11 hits over six innings, including a pair of bombs from Jayson Werth and Chad Tracy.

For the Nats, it's right-hander Edwin Jackson (6-6, 3.52), who was cruising in his past two outings. He's allowed just one run in 14 innings.

The Phillies defeated Jackson in a well-pitched game on May 23. He held the Fightins to three runs over seven frames, but Cole Hamels out-dueled him with eight rounds of shutout ball. However, the departed Shane Victorino and Mike Fontenot had the big hits in the game. Tonight would be a good night for Dom Brown to make an impression -- he's 2-for-3 with a double and a run batted in against Jackson.

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.