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Minor League Notes, May 14, 2011

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Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies runs to third base during a spring training workout February 19 2011. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies runs to third base during a spring training workout February 19 2011. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
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**Phillies prospect Domonic Brown was showing no ill effects from his spring wrist injury, hitting .353/.425/.588 in his first nine games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with four walks and eight strikeouts in 34 at-bats. Rumors were swirling of an imminent promotion to Philadelphia, but he jammed his right thumb  this past Wednesday and could miss up to a week of action.


**After a difficult April, Detroit Tigers third base prospect Nick Castellanos has turned things around in May, hitting .327/.377/.612 and boosting his overall season line to .241/.288/.379 for Low-A West Michigan. The better May numbers are good to see from a player regarded as one of the best bats in the '10 high school class, though he's got to get a grip on the strike zone. Plate discipline was supposed to be one of his strengths, but he hasn't shown that yet this year, with an 8/33 BB/K in 116 at-bats. He's also struggling on defense, with an .849 fielding percentage and very poor range factor so far. The Tigers spent $3.45 million to sign him in the supplemental first round last June.

**We haven't mentioned Bryce Harper for a couple of weeks. What he's doing at Low-A Hagerstown is really amazing: .390/.467/.686 through 33 games, with eight homers, 17 walks, and 28 strikeouts in 118 at-bats. He's been especially hot since May 1st, hitting .469/.519/.694 this month. He's murdering lefties, murdering righties, hitting at home and on the road. About the only "flaw" is a strikeout rate that's a little higher than perfect, but considering everything else I don't think that's too relevant.

The main question now is, at what point do they promote him? He's just 18 years old, but it doesn't seem like the Sally League has a lot left to teach him. Still, I'd rather be too conservative than too aggressive with a talent like this one. If I were the Nationals, I'd leave him at Hagerstown until the end of June, at which point the promotion would come. But to where? Should he move up to High-A Potomac, or skip that level altogether and jump directly to Double-A to challenge him?

That question is what I'd be asking myself for the rest of May and June. You can make a case either way: you want to see how he can handle failure psychologically, and Double-A has a better chance of teaching him that than High-A. But on the other hand, you also want to teach him psychological patience, and making him go up one-level-at-a-time (even if he doesn't spend a huge amount of time at each level) might help with that.