Blue Jays Prospect Dasan Brown Is Defensively Gifted

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Dasan Brown exudes energy, athleticism, and defensive acumen in the outfield. Drafted 88th overall in 2019 — two picks in front of Spencer Steer and 10 in front of Michael Harris II — the 22-year-old Oakville, Ontario, Canada native is coming off of a disappointing season with the stick. In 463 plate appearances with High-A Vancouver, the left-handed speedster slashed just .218/.309/.315 with seven home runs and a 74 wRC+. He did fare better in the Arizona Fall League; flashing more of his potential, he batted a solid .274 with a .342 OBP. Between the regular season and his Surprise Saguaros stint, he swiped 30 bags.

Brown, who is ranked 23rd on our 2024 Blue Jays list with a 40 FV, discussed his skill set following the AFL’s Fall Stars Game.


David Laurila: Defense is your strong suit. Is that accurate?

Dasan Brown: “Yeah. I mean, that’s what’s come most naturally to me. As a kid, I just wanted to go get baseballs. As I got older, I learned the skill part of it. I’ve gotten some good coaching here and there, but overall it’s just an instinct. It’s trusting myself out there. I kind of have fun with it. I see the ball up in the air and go get it.”

Laurila: That’s been the case for pretty much your whole life?

Brown: “Ever since I can remember. I was always in center field. I’ve always had a little bit of speed and have been able to use that to my advantage. But I’ve also learned the route running and the jumps, that part of the game, which has made it even easier to go get balls.”

Laurila: Most kids have a player they watch and try to emulate. Who was that for you?

Brown:Kevin Kiermaier was my guy. Obviously he’s one of the best at that position. And I got the opportunity to talk to him this year and get some insight as to what makes him so good. Getting his perspective on that definitely helps a lot. I’ve been taking that into my game, incorporating it into my game.”

Laurila: What did Kiermaier tell you?

Brown: “He basically told me that it’s all instincts out there. You can do as much practice, route running, as you want, but when that ball is up there and you’ve got to make a play, it’s all about trusting your instincts. The work that you put in beforehand kind of takes over and allows the internal side to kind of take over.”

Laurila: I assume Devon White has worked with you? He was an outstanding defensive center fielder for the Jays in his playing days.

Brown: “Yes. Devon is a really big part of my outfield play. That’s in terms of the mindset I have out there, a fearless mindset of getting every single ball, but also in terms of the little things that most fans don’t necessarily know about. Taking it to that next level, taking it from good to great by improving the little things, is something he’s really helpful with.”

Laurila: You’re referring to things like reads, crossover step?

Brown: “Yes.”

Laurila: Have you talked to those guys about hitting?

Brown: “Yeah. They’re big on the entire game. The offensive side… I mean, the hitting part is also about instincts. You put in the work in the cage, and that translates to the game. Seeing it translate is definitely a good feeling. And the preparation is huge. If you don’t prepare, you don’t have a chance for instincts to take over.

“You’re putting hours and hours into the batting cage, and in my opinion, that’s helped me the most. It’s a safe space where you’re kind of able to fail. A big part of this game is based on failure, so I try to challenge myself as much as I can in the cage.”

Laurila: Based on your numbers, you had a lot of failure on the offensive side of the ball this year. What led to that? Was it too much chase, a timing issue?

Brown: “It was just consistency. I think the hardest thing to do in this game is to be consistent. If you get a fastball over the middle and you’ve put in enough work in the cage, you’re going to hit it. But how many times out of 10 can you do that? That’s the biggest thing. Consistency comes from preparation. It comes from your routine, from the stuff that you do every single day. I also understand that even some of the best players go through rough days and rough weeks, sometimes even rough seasons, and it’s about how you come back from them. That’s a mindset I’m going to take into next year.”

Laurila: That said, what were the primary issues when you struggled? For instance, was it timing?

Brown: “I mean, timing is the number one thing. When you’re on time for the fastball, it makes everything a lot easier, because after that, you’re just being an athlete. And again, it’s about the work you put in to get there. You’re going to hit that fastball over the middle, but how hard are you going to hit it? In which direction are you going to hit it? Those are things you try to fix in the cage. A little mechanical thing being off makes it very difficult to hit a mid-90s fastball.”

Laurila: Speaking of mechanics, are your setup and swing much the same as when you signed with the Blue Jays four years ago?

Brown: “Not at all. Even from the start of this year to now it’s different. I had my hands in a very tight position and wasn’t able to get any type of movement in my hands. I tend to be a handsy hitter. My hands are quick, and that can work to to my disadvantage because of how quick they are. I get in and out of the zone very quickly. So being able to get some movement in my hands to delay them coming forward… once I was able to get some movement in the upper half and let the lower half just kind of work, [that] made it a lot easier to lay off that bad slider in the dirt and to turn on that fastball inside.”

Laurila: Can you elaborate on having had your hands in a tight position?

Brown: “I had them stuck up here by my ear. I made the adjustment of bringing them a little bit lower. As I’m getting into my move, the thought is to bring them straight up. Your natural correction kind of creates that separation, that elastic band a lot of hitting coaches talk about.”

Laurila: How would you define yourself as a hitter, stylistically?

Brown: “In terms of understanding who I am as a hitter, as I’ve gotten older and gotten more games under my belt, I’ve been able to build a better approach. As I’m kind of coming into the person I know I’m capable of becoming, I’m understanding that I’m going to hit a couple of home runs, I’m going to put the ball in play, and I’m going to use my speed to my advantage. And getting on base. A big thing for me is getting on base.”

Laurila: Any final thoughts?

Brown: “I feel like I can bring energy to the game. This game can be very long at times, and being that spark plug, or that energy… I mean, wherever I hit in the lineup, I can bring that spark to the team. I can be that spark on defense as well. That’s what I’m best at.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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5 months ago

Probably “natural” correction, not “national”.