Brown has eye on even bigger prize
Two Minor League MVPs not satisfying for Tribe prospect
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- When the Carolina and Eastern Leagues each handed Jordan Brown an MVP trophy over the last two seasons, they were essentially restating the obvious.A look at Brown's numbers from 2006 (.290 average, 15 homers, 26 doubles, 87 RBIs at Class A Kinston) and '07 (.333, 11 homers, 36 doubles, 76 RBIs at Double-A Akron) is all it takes to know the Indians' first base prospect was doing something right. "You really don't need an award to know you had a good season," Brown said. "Don't get me wrong, I love 'em. Anyone who says they don't is full of it. But awards will come if you perform well." Of course, having been an MVP the last two years, Brown is automatically under pressure to perform well enough this season to capture the International League honor at Triple-A Buffalo. "I've heard 'Vegas odds' and stuff like that," he said with a smile. "I'd love to do it, but as long as I can be a good teammate and improve my game and take myself to another level, I'll be happy." Brown did take his game to another level in '07. He bumped his walk total up from 51 to 63 and his on-base percentage from .362 to .421. He led all of Double-A baseball in batting average and finished fourth in the Eastern League in doubles and fifth in runs scored (85). And, oh yeah, he did it with a bum knee that hampered his swing in the season's second half. Doctors found a buildup of scar tissue and bone spurs in Brown's left knee. He had surgery performed on it in late September, and the recovery from that surgery had him a bit behind this spring in his first big league camp. The 24-year-old Brown made his first start of the Grapefruit League season Thursday against the Astros, batting ninth as the designated hitter. How much did the knee bother him last season? "It bothered me a lot," he said. "There were a lot of balls I couldn't really drive. The backspin really wasn't there the last couple months because of the pain in my knee." The knee also bothered Brown on the basepaths. Given the green light for the first time in his career, he quickly racked up 11 stolen bases, only to finish with 13. Imagine, then, what the left-handed Brown might be able to accomplish with two good knees. The Indians are enamored with the possibilities. "We would feel comfortable," farm director Ross Atkins said, "calling him a Major League quality bat."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.