When Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel called Domonic Brown into his office on July 7, the former Pasco High standout could only think of one reason — he was being traded.
Manuel and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro sat Brown down and closed the door. They told him he needed to pack his bags, but not because he was being dealt away from the organization. No, this news was much better.
Brown was going to the MLB All-Star Game.
“I was always (rumored to be) being traded,” Brown told reporters during Media Day at Citi Field in New York where the 84th Midsummer classic was on July 16. “I was always hoping I wouldn’t be, but my name was always being mentioned.”
The 25-year-old Brown, a Zephyrhills native, spent his first three years of high school at Pasco, before moving to Stone Mountain, Ga. for his senior year. He was the second player from Pasco High to make a major-league roster. The only other Pirate to make it to the big leagues was Gene Nelson, who played parts of 13 seasons with six different teams.
And, although he did not have a marquee night in the National League’s 3-0 loss against the American League, striking out on just three pitches in his only at-bat against Toronto Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil, Brown said he still enjoyed his first trip to the All-Star Game.
“It was unbelievable to be out there with all those great All-Stars,” Brown said. “It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun. I can’t believe it’s already over.”
Brown almost had another opportunity to put a ball in play in the bottom of the ninth, but was left in the on-deck circle when Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alverez popped out to center field to end the game.
“I was hoping Pedro would hit one and I’d come up in a special situation,” Brown quipped. “Maybe next year. I just have to keep working hard.”
During the first half of the season, Brown was one of the best hitters in baseball by batting .273 with 23 home runs and 67 RBIs. He’s currently tied for second in the NL for homers and is third in total bases with 175.
Production wasn’t always easy for Brown, though.
Despite being rated as Baseball America’s No. 1 minor-league prospect three seasons ago, Brown, who was a 20th round pick by the Phillies in 2006, struggled throughout his first two seasons at the professional ranks, before turning the corner this year.
“It takes some guys longer than other guys,” Brown said of his past struggles. “You definitely have to go through your own journey and see how it works out. But the biggest thing is never giving up. You just keep working on what you have to do, keep working hard and everything maybe works out.”
This season’s All-Star Game also featured another prominent talent from the Tampa Bay area as former Alonso High standout Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins pitched for the National League.
The 20-year-old Fernandez, a 2011 graduate and former first-round draft pick, was called up to the Marlins at the beginning of the season after never playing higher than Class-A minor-league ball. So far, the right-hander has performed well for Miami going 5-5 with a 2.75 ERA.
Fernandez, the Marlins’ lone representative at the Midsummer classic, pitched a perfect sixth inning for the NL, striking out two batters, including former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox and current home run leader, Chris Davis, of the Baltimore Orioles.
“I’m proud of how I went out there and didn’t try to overdo anything,” Fernandez said. “That was one of things that I look back and I’m pretty happy about. The result was good, but I’m happy I wasn’t trying to overdo stuff.”
–Information from MLB.com was used in this report. Follow Jeff Odom on Twitter @JOdomLaker