The Oakland A’s made a lot of major league moves over the last couple weeks, but that doesn’t preclude the normal offseason allotment of minor league depth signings. They mixed in another one of those quiet pickups last Monday.
The A’s signed relief pitcher Aaron Brown to a minor league contract, per the team’s transaction page.
On the surface, Brown doesn’t appear like a notable addition. The lefty will turn 29 this season, and he hasn’t played above Double-A. But there’s a reason he hasn’t made it higher up the ladder yet — he didn’t begin pitching in the pros until 2017.
It’s basically a Sean Doolittle story, even if the details aren’t identical. Brown was drafted as an outfielder, by the Phillies in the 3rd round in 2014, though he’d also pitched in college. At one point he was a Top 10 prospect in Philadelphia’s organization as a hitter, but by 2017 he wasn’t making finding success on that side of the ball. That summer the team’s director of player development suggested he try pitching instead, and he accepted the opportunity.
It hasn’t been the type of explosive emergence we saw from Doo, but Brown has made impressive progress through the pipeline all the way up to the No. 2 highest level of the minors. He reached Double-A within a year of his pro debut on the mound, and then he stayed there for all of 2019 and struck out 11 batters per nine innings.
Brown, 2019 AA: 3.82 ERA, 66 ip, 81 Ks, 35 BB, 6 HR, 3.58 FIP
He’s not any kind of factor in this spring’s MLB bullpen, nor is he likely to appear on our Community Prospect List, but as depth flyers go he’s certainly not boring. Can Brown take it the rest of the way to the majors, with his four-pitch arsenal? It’ll be fun to follow him this summer in the A’s minor league system and find out.
If he were ever to reach Oakland he could be the sequel to Doo, as a hitter who became a lefty reliever, and we could call him Sean Deuxlittle.
Related: Brown isn’t the only Fauxlittle in the A’s system. He joins Eric Mariñez, a former infielder who now fires mid-90s as a righty reliever and looked good in High-A in 2019.