Standing at five feet, nine inches, the odds would usually be against you as a pitcher. But if you’re a lefty, your size becomes meaningless.
“Luckily for me, being a lefty, there hasn’t been many roadblocks. I’ve never been overlooked because of my size for the sole reason that everyone loves lefties,” Brown said in a recent interview.
That’s been the case for Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguer Daniel Brown, who was a seventh-round pick by the Brew Crew back in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft out of a prestigious Mississippi State program. Despite his small stature, Brown has enjoyed a relatively successful professional career to this point. In just his third full season, the Alabama native has a career 3.56 ERA across three levels.
Brown is enjoying an impressive start to the 2019 campaign with Double-A Biloxi, where the lefty has gone 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA. The 24-year-old has struck out 17 hitters in just 16 innings while holding oppositions to a .185 average. Walks have been an issue throughout his career, as he has given up 15 free passes this year, but Brown has made it his main goal to sharpen his command and work at getting ahead of hitters on a more consistent basis.
“I’ve had some issues giving up free passes, so I’m really trying to stay hitter to hitter, pitch to contact and throw strikes,” he said.
The former Mississippi State Bulldog has had several coaches who have shaped him into the pitcher he is today, both in junior college at Tyler JC in Tyler, Texas, where he won an NJCAA Division III national championship, and at the NCAA Division I level.
“At Tyler, Travis Chick was one of the coaches who really helped develop me into the mindset of being a full-time pitcher and using my body better on the mound,” Brown said. “Then in my junior year at Mississippi State, I had Butch Thompson who really taught me how to sink and tail my fastball in order to get more groundballs. My senior year I was lucky enough to have Wes Johnson, who is now the big-league pitching coach for the Twins. He really taught me a lot of the mental side of the game and attacking hitters with my best stuff,”
On the right path
Brown was handpicked by the Brewers last year to represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League, which showcases the best talent that each big league team has to offer in their farm system. He did extremely well too, tossing 12 innings, posting a 3.00 ERA and striking out 17 hitters in the process. The lefty was very grateful for the opportunity, as it showed that he’s valued as an important part of the farm system in Milwaukee.
“It meant a lot, the Brewers trusted me to go down to Arizona and represent them as an organization. It meant a lot to me both as a player and a person. Going down there and performing on a consistent basis against the best of the best in minor league baseball was huge for me and I’ve really tried to carry that momentum into this season,” Brown stated.
Brown isn’t blessed with an overpowering fastball, as it sits in the low 90s. But his deceptiveness and ability to sink and tail his heater have really helped him have a lot of success so far in his minor-league career. Pair that with a wipe-out slider that is his best pitch and you have a mid-innings weapon or lefty specialist that could be a part of the Brewers bullpen in the next couple of years.
His ability to rack up the strikeouts has been very evident to this point in his professional career. Through 156.2 minor league innings, the lefty has struck out 157 hitters.
“I generally try to pitch to contact, using my fastball to either get righties to hit a weak groundball to second base or throw it in on the hands of lefties,” Brown said. “But with my slider, I use that to put away hitters. I’m comfortable throwing it in any count, any time,” He said.
The big leagues are obviously the ultimate goal for Brown, but all he can do is put his best foot forward each outing until he gets moved up to the next level. “I just need to focus on posting quality numbers, throwing strikes, and getting outs. If a spot opens up in Triple-A San Antonio then I’d love to get the call-up,” Brown said.
For now, the 24-year old will continue to carve up hitters in Double-A as he sits on the doorstep of the big leagues. You can follow Brown on Twitter at @DRBrown_3.