St. Louis Cardinals Claim OF Gary Brown on Waivers


The St. Louis Cardinals made a minor depth move on Friday, claiming outfielder Gary Brown off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. Brown had been designated for assignment by the defending World Champions earlier this week when they added outfielder Justin Maxwell to their 40-man roster.

The 26-year-old Brown was the 26th pick in the first round of the 2010 Draft for the Giants. He was viewed as a rangy fielder and base-stealing threat who could be a potent leadoff hitter. While Brown inspired plenty of optimism in his first full professional season, hitting .336/.407/.519 with 14 homers, 80 RBI, and 53 stolen bases at High-A San Jose, he’s been on a downward trend since then.

After a dreadful start in 2012 at Double-A Richmond, Brown got hot at the end of the season and ultimately ended up with a respectable .279/.347/.385 line with seven homers, 42 RBI, and 33 steals for the year. Things really got tough for him in his initial projected big-league ETA year of 2013, when he ascended to Triple-A and hit just .231/.286/.375 with 13 homers and 50 RBI. Perhaps most alarmingly, Brown’s ability to steal bases more or less disappeared at Triple-A, as he stole a career-low 17 bases and was caught stealing 11 times. He did not receive a September call-up, and it became questionable whether he would ever reach the majors.

To an extent, Brown was able to kick it back into gear in 2014, as he improved slightly at Triple-A, hitting .271/.329/.394, though his homers dropped down to 10 for the season. It was a welcome sight to see him steal 36 bases, but he still lacked discipline as a baserunner and was caught stealing 20 times.

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Even though his numbers weren’t exactly impressive during his second go-round at the minors’ highest level, Brown’s status as a first-rounder was enough to get him promoted to the big leagues in September, and he took full advantage. Getting some at-bats as the Giants’ outfield depth dissipated, Brown went 3-for-7 (.429), and he surprisingly earned himself a spot on the playoff roster for the Giants’ first-round series against the Washington Nationals. He did collect one at-bat during the 18-inning affair between the two teams on October 4, striking out in his lone pinch-hitting appearance. Brown was removed from the playoff roster after Michael Morse returned from injury for the NLCS.

This spring, Brown failed to take advantage of an opportunity to secure a big-league roster spot which was created by Hunter Pence‘s injury. The former first-rounder went 6-for-22 (.154) with one homer and three RBI. He showed mixed skills as an on-base threat, as he took five walks and stole three bases, but he was also caught stealing three times.

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Though Brown was given up on by the organization that drafted him, he may still have some potential as a backup outfielder. He was rated as the Giants’ 25th-best prospect by, and if someone can get through to him and refine a few things, namely his plate approach and discipline while running the bases, he could be a solid fourth outfielder, especially with his strong defensive skills. With that said, Brown has often been unresponsive to coaching, as Giants beat writer Alex Pavlovic detailed last spring:

"Brown and some of his minor league hitting coaches have not always seen eye to eye when it comes to his swing, and asked about his future as a table-setter, Brown disagreed with the notion that he might be better suited at a different spot. Aside from a brief stint in college as a No. 2 hitter, he has always been atop lineups, from Little League to the minors. In college, coaches tried to get Brown to be more of a slap hitter, bunt more often and take advantage of his speed. The Giants have tried the same thing.“I’m not that guy,” Brown said. “I’ve got a little bit of power, and I split the gaps. When you expect something from someone and they do something else, you’re kind of shocked or you don’t really know how to react. I think it’s been a learning process of us getting to know each other.”"

Brown is expected to begin the season with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, where he’ll provide the team with a center fielder that they desperately needed following an injury to Tommy Pham, who was expected to fill the role.

Next: This Day in St. Louis Sports History: April 3