It took three seasons and 100 plate appearances, but the 28-year-old is on the board in MLB and heating up quickly
In 2017, Seth Brown hit 30 homers at the High-A level of the minor leagues. He was on the older side for that level of competition at age 24, but it was still an impressive showing for a former 19th-round draft pick.
Two years later, he found himself in Triple-A, in a launching pad Las Vegas park amid a supercharged Pacific Coast League. He blasted 37 dingers in just 112 games, one short of the league lead.
That last performance in the minors was enough to push Brown over the top. The sleeper prospect got the call to the majors, and on Aug. 26, 2019, he made his MLB debut for the Oakland A’s.
The lefty ended up getting 83 plate appearances in the bigs that year, playing well enough to keep earning playing time down the stretch of a contending season. His final batting line was well-above average.
- Brown, 2019: .293/.361/.453, 121 wRC+
However, there was one thing missing, as none of his 22 hits cleared the fence. He made plenty of good contact, and saw more than his fair share of batted balls find the turf, but the slugger didn’t thump any homers.
The abbreviated 2020 season meant fewer opportunities to go around, and the A’s outfield was too crowded for Brown to squeeze his way in. He only got five plate appearances all year and went hitless.
It didn’t get any better at the start of 2021, as Brown, now age 28, was left off the Opening Day roster. But this time he didn’t have to wait long for his chance, as within a week there was an injury in the outfield and he was called up April 6.
He made his first start April 7, against reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Oakland had lost their first six games and were desperate for anything that would work on offense, and Brown wasted no time putting the barrel of his bat to use. In his very first at-bat of the season, he ripped a 112.4 mph liner that still stands as the second-hardest contact of the A’s season so far, and their sixth-hardest since the beginning of 2020. Unfortunately he hit it on a line instead of higher in the air, so it stayed in the park for a single.
His next time up against Bauer, Brown did get the loft he needed, and he went deep to right field. However, his 393-foot drive hooked foul by not more than a foot or two, landing in the seats for a harmless foul ball. He later struck out, then struck out again, then walked. Despite a monster day, he was somehow still searching for that first dinger. He even robbed one on defense before hitting one himself on offense.
Another two games went by, 0-for-5 including a 101.5 mph groundout and a 99.1 mph flyout that he merely got under a little too much. It was just a matter of time.
Finally, on Saturday, it happened. The A’s were in Houston looking to wrap up their first series win, and Brown helped them add some insurance. In his fourth at-bat of the day, he connected against Astros reliever Ryne Stanek, and the result was a no-doubter. It came off the bat at 106.1 mph, and went 424 feet. Oakland has only hit 15 homers farther than that since the beginning of 2020.
Brown struck again on Tuesday, and it only took that long because the team had an off-day Sunday and then he didn’t start Monday. Facing the D’Backs in Arizona, he got a slider in the zone from reliever Anthony Swarzak and unloaded on it. Exit velocity 103.4 mph, distance 422 feet. These are not wallscrapers, they’re moonshots, or close to it.
Seth Brown with a MASSIVE long ball for the lead pic.twitter.com/0NGh3eIpZi
— A’s on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 13, 2021
That second long ball was particularly impactful, too. The A’s had stormed back from down 5-0 to tie it, and Brown delivered the go-ahead run in the 8th inning that put them ahead permanently.
Also, that powerful lefty swing has gotta give you some flashbacks to Brandon Moss, another late-bloomer who finally broke out in Oakland at age 28.
Of course it’s premature to start tossing around All-Star comps after just two MLB homers, but it’s impossible not to be excited to see more from Brown after his last couple games.
- Brown, 2021: 3-for-18, 2 HR, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 108 wRC+, .357 xwOBA, 92.0 mph EV
It took until his 102nd career plate appearance for Brown to finally hit a homer in the bigs, in what was technically his third season. But now that script has flipped entirely, and he’s got two absolute jacks in 20 plate appearances this year, and in spirit it’s really three. There are some strikeouts to keep an eye on, but at this point is anyone willing to bet against him becoming the green-and-gold’s latest breakout hitter?