Rookie catcher Trevor Brown was the big hero for the San Francisco Giants on April 8th, hitting a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Brown saw brief major league action with the Giants last year but hasn't ranked highly on prospect lists. Let's take a look.
Brown was a college player at UCLA, playing a bench role during his freshman and sophomore seasons but taking over as multi-position regular in 2012. He hit .321/.373/.427 in 246 at-bats that spring, spending time at first base and catcher as well as the middle infield spots. The Giants drafted him in the 10th round. He continued to see action at multiple positions in the low minors, splitting his innings between catcher, first base, and second base.
Moving behind the plate full-time in 2014, Brown has developed into a quality defensive asset. He's thrown out 34% of runners in his career while maintaining low passed ball and error rates. His athleticism and mobility are good enough that he is actually a solid defender at both second and first base; you could play him in those spots if you needed to, enhancing his versatility and value as a bench player in this era of huge pitching staffs.
Brown's hitting has kept him from being a top prospect. Although he makes contact readily he's never shown much power, hitting just seven homers in 1230 minor league plate appearances. Friday's homer was well-timed but not representative of his track record, nor the lack of raw power perceived by scouts. He's not one much for walks, either, drawing just 84 free passes on his way to a .244/.300/.316 minor league line. That said, he's shown a little more with the bat the last two seasons, hitting .277/.332/.346 in Triple-A.
It is plausible that Brown could hit .250 in the majors someday. It would likely be an empty .250 without much power or OBP, but then again this IS the Giants we are talking about, with their Matt Duffy pixie dust.
Even if the bat never develops, Brown's glove will keep him in the Triple-A regular/big league bench picture for years.