Courtesy of Herb Garbutt & The Oakville Beaver.
Dasan Brown hopes he hasn’t played his last game in a major-league baseball stadium.
And given his latest opportunity to do so, there will be some teams interested in having him do so again. Earlier this month at the Rogers Centre, Brown was named to the all-star team at T12, the annual showcase of Canada’s best college-eligible players.
Despite having the eyes of scouts trained on him, Brown thrived in the leadoff spot for Ontario Black with a tournament-high seven hits.
“There’s always pressure, but it was my third year at T12 so I’ve gotten used to it,” the Abbey Park student said. “It wasn’t as new as it was the first time I played there.”
Brown got his first taste of playing on a major league field when he was just 10. As one of the top three North American qualifiers for the Pitch, Hit and Run competition, he competed in the final prior to the MLB all-star game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
While his comfort level playing in a big stadium helped, his success at T12 had just as much to do with the many hours he’s spent in the batting cage.
“He wore me out,” said Ontario Blue Jays hitting co-ordinator Eddie Largy. “He was in the cage four to six days a week doing different drills. But that’s a good thing. It’s easy to make time for someone when they want to commit to it.”
Players often ask Largy for help making adjustments to their swing. Brown wasn’t interested in tinkering as much as overhauling.
“Dasan came to me at the end of last year and wanted to change everything,” Largy said. “He went from sometimes just being up there swinging a bat to working with a plan, the way he was using his legs, keeping the ball more on a line and controlling what he’s doing at the plate.”
Largy said the changes Brown made helped him increase his bat speed. Brown has improved his average every year at T12, from .091 in his debut with the Futures team as a 14-year-old, to .250 last year to .438 this year.
Blessed with natural speed — he turned in the fastest 60-yard time at T12 with a 6.35, though he ran a 6.20 in July — Brown has done everything he can to maximize his running ability.
“I’ve been working a lot on my hitting,” he said. “My running and defence, I take a lot of pride in, but my hitting is what I’ve been working on the most.”
Those improvements saw the Grade 12 student drawing more attention from U.S. colleges and in August he committed to Texas A&M University. Brown, who turned 17 last Tuesday, will be eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in the spring. For now, though, he’s simply interested in continuing to improve his game.
“I’m really just trying to focus on getting better,” he said. “I really just want to be the best ballplayer I can be.”
Brown will continue to strive toward that goal as he begins his second season with the junior national team at this week’s fall instructional league camp in Florida.
“It’s crazy the places we get to train and the competition we face,” he said of squaring off against pro prospects. “You can’t even ask for more than that and I just want to try to make the most of it.”