Mighty Phils full of fantasy question marks 

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
2:09
PM ET
Two years ago, it looked like Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown was a lock to become a future star. He shredded pitchers in the upper levels of the minor leagues, showing power, speed, patience and maturity, and fantasy owners were ready to pounce on the next big thing. Who knew Brown's defense would play a role in hampering his development?

[+] EnlargeDomonic Brown
Jeff Conner/Icon SMIDomonic Brown can hit, but about that defense ...
Brown is expected to be demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley any day now, and the fact that he's making previous Phillies left fielders Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez look like Brett Gardner and Gerardo Parra defensively is one of the primary reasons. Brown came up as a right fielder and seemed competent enough there, but after the Hunter Pence trade, the Phillies moved him to left field. Things don't seem to be going as well there. Brown made two terrible plays late in Tuesday's spring game in Kissimmee, Fla., continuing a trend. A week ago, he sprained a thumb foolishly diving for a fly ball he misjudged and subsequently missed a few days.

The Phillies are confident Brown will hit. He homered later in Tuesday's game, upping his spring batting average to .313, though over a mere 16 at-bats. He also has tripled twice. He hasn't struck out. The offense still seems to be somewhat of a given in time, despite his struggles in the big leagues the past two seasons (over 246 at-bats). Defensively, however, he needs work, and it's the kind of thing you can tell from watching him play, not from a box score. The Phillies know it. Manager Charlie Manuel has been ducking the issue with Phillies reporters, but there's a reason John Mayberry Jr. will be manning left field on Opening Day. He can field his position at least adequately (and he can hit as well!).

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