The Jordan Brown File
Born: Dec. 18, 1983 in Walnut City, CA.
Position: First Base
Acquired: Fourth-round draft pick in 2005 from Arizona.
Strengths: Excellent contact hitter. Can drive the ball to both gaps. Has an innate ability to put the fat part of the bat on the ball. Has become a very disciplined hitter.
Weaknesses: Does not have the type of power (seven homers in 420 at-bats in '08 at Buffalo) that you'd like to see in a first baseman. Not a pure first baseman, but is working to get there.
2009 Projection: Will likely return to Triple-A, where he will try to avoid getting lost in the shuffle at first base.
2008 & MINOR-LEAGUE CAREER
BONUS COVERAGE: The following article is reprinted from the 2008 Top 100 Prospects issue of Indians Ink Magazine.
Who's No. 1?
Two-Time League MVP Jordan Brown Is Indians' Top Prospect
By FRANK DERRY
The secret to Jordan Brown's success as a hitter is really no secret at all. Hard work, discipline and a burning desire to be the best at his craft have helped make him one of the best hitters in all of minor league baseball over the past two years.
That's the primary reason why the left-hand hitting Brown has risen to No. 1 on the Indians Ink list of the Tribe's Top 100 Prospects after being No. 10 a year ago.
Akron Aeros manager Tim Bogar probably sums up Brown's passion the best when he says, "He takes every swing in batting practice and the games very seriously. He treats every at bat as though it were the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series."
Brown's efforts translated into a .333 average with 11 home runs, 76 RBI and a league-high 161 hits for the Class AA Aeros in 2007. In so doing, he was selected the Eastern League's Most Valuable Player and also the EL's Rookie of the Year.
In 2006, Brown, the Tribe's 2005 fourth-round draft choice out of the University of Arizona, hit .290 with 15 home runs and 87 RBI at Class A Kinston and was selected the Carolina League's Most Valuable Player.
Brown's impressive journey toward the major league level is following a very similar path to that of Indians all-star catcher Victor Martinez. In 2001, Martinez was the Carolina League Player of the Year and followed that by being named the Eastern League Player of the Year in 2002.
"Even just to be mentioned in the same breath with Victor Martinez is very nice," said a humble Brown. "He's a pretty damn good ball player."
People are saying the same thing about Brown who, like Martinez, is much better known for his bat than his glove.
Brown is a natural first baseman who, because of the fact the Indians have a couple of other very talented first basemen in the system, has spent considerable time in right field the past two seasons.
Stephen Head, the Tribe's second-round draft choice in 2005, played first base at Kinston in 2006 with Brown in right field most of the time. In 2007, Brown was the Aeros' everyday first baseman to start the year, but then started sharing those duties with Michael Aubrey when the oft-injured former first-round draft choice was healthy enough to play.
"Obviously, I feel a lot more comfortable at first base," Brown said. "I feel like I can make a difference defensively at first. In the outfield, I feel like I can make routine plays and not really be a liability like I once felt I was, so that's a good thing."
Brown realized why he needed to give up first base when Aubrey arrived for the second half of the season. "I understand that baseball is a business and that you have to give Michael every opportunity in the world to play. When he is healthy, he is amazing," Brown said. "He has a great swing and he is a great defensive player. He's a really smooth player. You have to give him the opportunity to show himself off. It wouldn't be fair if you didn't."
Many players, especially someone who is leading his team offensively and is holding his own in the field, might have balked at having to switch positions. Brown willingly made the switch, which didn't surprise Bogar whatsoever.
"He was fine with it," Bogar said. "Jordan knows he will have to be able to play both positions in order to move where he wants to go. I don't think he is a pure first baseman, but he is working on it and trying to get better at it. He is adequate in the outfield right now and is willing to do whatever you ask him to do."
Brown says, "Versatility should help because it should open up doors and spots for me to play. I like being in the lineup every day. My being able to play a couple of positions should help myself and the team."
But there's little doubt that when Brown gets to the major leagues, it'll be because of his bat. Indians player personnel director Ross Atkins says, "Jordan has an innate ability to put the fat part of the bat on the best part of the baseball. He has done that for two years now and he has become a much more disciplined hitter. He is being more selective and starting to show a little more power."
Brown takes a tremendous amount of pride in his hitting and the regimented routine he uses to achieve that success.
"Hard work is the key," says the 6-0, 205-pounder who was born in Walnut City, Ca., and resides in Vacaville, Ca. "My day at the park starts with the same routine. Whether it's on the field or in the cage, I really try to take advantage of the time until I reach the point where I really feel comfortable and confident when I step to the plate.
"When you feel comfortable and confident, you don't have to think about your swing or what you are going to do during the game. If you have to think about what you are doing, you are not going to hit. It's impossible."
Bogar says, "Jordan is a very confident hitter. The thing that he is very good at is plate discipline. His zone discipline is outstanding. Most often, he only swings at pitches with which he can do things. When you can do that, you have a pretty good chance of success.
"He uses the whole field. He goes line to line. He has no problem going the other way with the ball or pulling the ball."
Brown says the endless hours of hard work are necessary because, "You can never be too perfect with your plate discipline, pitch selection and pitch recognition. The most important thing is getting your pitch to hit and learning your strengths and weaknesses."
Brown is confident that he will develop more power as he matures as a player, but right now he is comfortable being a gap-to-gap hitter. "When I did struggle a little bit, it was when I began to try and hit home runs. When I do not try to hit home runs, I do pretty well.
"I don't think power will be an issue. All of my coaches tell me not to worry about it. They say, `You are a young guy and as you develop, you are going to get stronger.' "
Bogar envisions Brown as a 15-20 home run a year guy, with a hitting style similar to former major-leaguer Mark Grace.
Brown has no problem at all with that comparison. Right now, he's itching just to get the opportunity to prove himself on the major league level.
"It's hard having to wait, especially when guys I know and have played with and against are already up there," Brown admitted.
One such player is Asdrubal Cabrera, who was Brown's teammates at Akron most of the 2007 season. Cabrera was outstanding both in the regular season and in the playoffs.
"His success didn't surprise me at all," Brown said. "I know how hard he works. He didn't stray from what he did here. A lot of guys don't stop to think that what they did here (at the minor league level) is what got them there in the first place. They think they have to do even more and end up pressing.
"But that (not pressing) is easier said than done, just as baseball is easy to learn, but hard to master."
Jordan Brown, after just three years of pro ball, appears well on his way to earning his master's degree.