RICHMOND, Va. -- As is the case with the more highly-rated prospects who come to the Diamond in Richmond, Flying Squirrels outfielder Vaun Brown has expectations above and beyond just being on the field each day. He is the number five prospect in the entire Giants organization but has been able to put that aside in favor of doing the little things each day required for success.
"This isn't pressure. This is a game. I'm so lucky and blessed to be able to do it," Brown said.
Brown feels particularly blessed because of how many times baseball has almost been taken from him. He's twice torn his ACL and during his second rehab broke both bones in his lower leg.
"For my middle school days, I was the guy on the crutches, the scooter not a lot of PE or gym classes for me. I actually picked up orchestra," the one-time cellist said. "I was pretty damn good at it."
He's also pretty darn good at baseball.
"He gets everything out of what he has from a tools standpoint," Flying Squirrels manager Dennis Pelfrey said. "It comes down to the preparation and his demeanor and how he's attacking each day."
Brown played collegiately at Florida Southern where COVID stopped his senior season short, again nearly taking baseball away from him completely.
It also delayed his professional career.
At the age of 25, Brown is a couple of years older than most of his teammates.
That's looked upon as a detriment to some scouts, but it has given Brown experiences and a perspective some do not have.
"The prime age for a player I think is independent for each player themselves," Pelfrey said. "What he's done to prepare himself to play and the things that he has taught himself throughout his time, he's in a very good spot."
Brown said he wouldn't change a thing.
"I'm here for a reason. It took me a long time to get here for a reason," he said. "COVID shut down my senior year and that gave me a new perspective on not just baseball but life."
It was because of COVID that he started wearing a gaiter as a face covering. While it may have kept him safe from germs, it also brought him peace at the plate which he continues to use today.
"It helps me lock in at the plate. It controls my breathing. So why wouldn't I keep doing it?" he said.
Thus far through his first season at the AA level, Brown has hit for average and for power.
He can steal bases and rundown almost anything in the outfield.
He also brings a presence in the clubhouse that commands a certain level of respect, even though he hasn't been here all that long.
It's part of an overall package that may have him in the majors soon, but right now has the Squirrels playing as well as any team in the league.
"The more experience you have in going through some of those hard times in your life are going to make you a better person overall," his coach said.
"We pick each other up," Brown said. "I need it sometimes as well. There's guys in there that are like hey, lets go. We're going to do this today. You strike out? I got you. And vice versa. I think that's what makes this team so special.
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