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Coachable Brown breaks out for Fresno06/12/2013 2:21 AM ET
By Jake Seiner / Special to MLB.com
Fresno manager Bob Mariano and his staff wanted Gary Brown to stand a little taller.
Now that he's heeding the advice, he again looks like the player who hovered over much of the prospect world two years ago.
It took Brown a while to come around, but now he's all ears and the results are coming fast. One day after his first four-hit game of the season, the Giants' No. 2 prospect put together what Mariano described as the "best game he's had all year," going 3-for-5 with a homer and double on Tuesday in the Grizzlies' 7-2 loss to Tucson.
Mariano and hitting coach Russ Morman have been preaching most of the same things to Brown for most of the season. But despite hitting .199 through 59 games, MLB.com's No. 89 overall prospect remained stuck in his old ways.
"Gary's been real reluctant to really make adjustments," Mariano said. "Some guys just take some time and are a little stubborn."
Mariano and Morman wanted Brown to get taller in his stance and work down to the ball more in his swing. The manager said Brown's swing had gotten long, noting he was "in and out of the zone real quick." As Brown told MiLB.com after his four-hit game on Monday, "I wasn't doing much right."
With the aid of special assistant Shane Turner, Mariano and Morman finally got through to Brown over the weekend while the team was in Salt Lake City.
"He really started opening up and asking questions to Shane and us about what he needed to do," Mariano said. "We looked at some video of him in [Class A Advanced] San Jose and he was taller in his setup back then, and that allowed him to stay above the ball in his setup and stay through the zone.
"He's been asking more questions and been more receptive to some teaching that Russ was trying to get through to him and Shane Turner was trying to get through to him. And he just started catching on fire."
Brown snapped out of a 4-for-32 funk with two hits on Sunday, then doubled and homered in Monday's 4-for-5 effort against Tucson. On Tuesday, he led off the bottom of the first inning with his fifth homer of the season. He lined a double to center field in the seventh and laced a single back up the middle in the ninth.
"He hasn't done that all year," Mariano said of Brown's three line drive hits.
The 24-year-old outfielder is showing signs of the versatile talents that shot him up prospect lists in 2011. He was named California League Rookie of the Year and the Giants' top prospect -- 48th overall heading into the 2012 season -- after batting .336 with 14 homers, 53 stolen bases and a .925 OPS.
Last season, Brown earned mixed reviews at Double-A with a .279 average and .731 OPS. This year, his prospect stock took a hit as his numbers diminished.
Mariano thinks the rocky first half could prove a blessing in the long run, as the struggles finally pushed Brown to open up and accept a little coaching.
"Sometimes failure is your best teacher as a coach," Mariano said. "You let guys fail and they have to take a couple steps back before they can take steps forward. Sometimes guys take time to make adjustments and are more open to it. Gary, he was kind of, he was real receptive earlier.
"He's catching fire and putting together some good at-bats, and that's something we've been waiting for for a long time."