2022 Vancouver Canadians outfielder Dasan Brown runs it down in the latest episode of C’s Chat.
It almost seemed inevitable that the Oakville, Ontario native would wind up with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. The Abbey Park High School product played for the Ontario Blue Jays of the Canadian Premier Baseball League and played at the SkyDome in Toronto to take part in three Tournament 12 showcases where he was named tournament All-Star after hitting .438 in his final tournament appearanace in 2018..
Brown was also a member of the Canadian Junior National Team and helped them win a bronze medal at the COPABE Under-18 Pan Am Championships in 2018. His breakthrough performance came on March 23, 2019. In an exhibition game between the Canadian Juniors and the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Brown homered off 2018 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Joey Murray in a 3-for-4 day at the plate and made a diving catch in center field against his favourite childhood team.
That generated plenty of buzz around Brown leading up to the 2019 MLB Draft where Baseball America ranked Brown as the 96th best prospect.
Brown was picked in the third round, 88th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays on the recommendation of Amateur Scouting Manager Kory Lafreniere and received a signing bonus of $797,500.
As a 17 year-old, Brown was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2019. In his first professional at-bat against the GCL Tigers West, he hit a triple July 26. His first three hits were all for extra-bases as he had an RBI triple against the GCL Yankees West July 29 to go along with a walk and a run scored. Brown stole his first two bases in his next game against the GCL Phillies West July 30. He was able to get on base at least once in all 14 games in the GCL by hit, walk or hit by pitch as he batted .222/.444/.354 with five runs batted in and six stolen bases. For a moment, it appeared Brown was going to join the Vancouver Canadians for a late-season look as his MiLB.com player page noted he was assigned from Bluefield to Vancouver. He never wound up playing for either squad as the transaction was termed a “paper move” or administrative procedure. Still, Brown’s performance earned him a number 19 ranking on Baseball America‘s Top 20 Gulf Coast League prospects in 2019 and was rated the 23rd best prospect in the Blue Jays system.
In its report on the 2019 Blue Jays draft class, BA named Brown as the best athlete and fastest baserunner, calling him “one of the fastest players in baseball, an 80-grade runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.”
COVID would push Brown’s full-season debut to 2021 where he joined the Dunedin Blue Jays. He singled in his first game in St. Lucie June 27 and had a three-hit performance in Palm Beach July 2. That was the start of a five-game hitting streak and a 12-game on-base streak which culminated with Brown’s first professional home run in Clearwater July 17. He missed a chuck of time in August due to injury but did have a five-game hitting streak in September. There was also a 2-for-2 day at the plate with two stolen bases against Clearwater September 15. He batted just .212 in 51 games but stole 22 bases in 28 attempts and had an on-base percentage of .310 thanks to eight hit by pitches.
It was back to Dunedin for Brown in 2022. His second game of the year saw him pick up two hits and steal three bases against Bradenton April 9 but his average hovered from the .170 range before reeling off a six-game hitting that included home runs in Bradenton April 26 and April 28. Unfortunately, Brown was sidelined due to injury and did not return until the mid-point of June. After a six-game tune-up with the Florida Complex League Blue Jays in which he put a .409 OBP in 16 at-bats, Brown was back with the D-Jays June 21 when he went 3-for-5 against Bradenton. He would reach base by hit or a walk in all 18 games since his return to Dunedin including a home run against Clearwater July 9 and another two-run shot in St. Lucie July 13.
A batting line of .279/.369/.450 with 14 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases in 38 games with Dunedin convinced the Toronto brass to promote Brown to Vancouver. He picked up two hits in his C’s debut in Spokane July 22 and led to a three-game hitting streak. It was on July 26 when Brown returned to Canadian soil and he drew a walk in his Nat Bailey Stadium debut against Everett after nearly homering in his first at-bat.
Brown would go deep for Monty’s Mounties in Eugene August 14 to help the club snap a five-game losing streak against the Emeralds. On August 16 in Everett, Brown doubled, singled, walked three times with a stolen base in a victory over the AquaSox. He also capped off the night with a diving catch to end the game. Brown’s speed was also on display against Hillsboro August 25. After getting drilled in the shoulder in a tie game in the seventh, he would steal second, get to third on a balk and race home on a Damiano Palmegiani grounder to third. Despite missing home plate the first time around on the feet first slide at home, Brown scrambled back to step on the pentagon to score the winning run.
During a seven-game series in Spokane, Brown collected nine hits in 20 at-bats, drew five walks, drove in three runs and stole a base to help the C’s take five of seven at Avista Stadium.
C’s Plus Baseball chatted with the 20 year-old Brown during the team’s August homestand against Hillsboro. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
C’s Plus Baseball – How are you feeling after getting hit in the shoulder like that with a 97 mile an hour fastball that went all the way up the net (behind home plate)?
Dasan Brown – I heard. I’m still going through it right now. It’s a little sore, but I mean we ended up winning the game, so I got to get over it.
CPB – You’ve been hit a few times already. I know it’s not a fun experience but at the same time, your job’s trying to get on base anyway you can.
DB – Yeah. That’s the goal. Part of my role on this team is to get on base, score as many runs as possible. So however we can do that, it’s a win for me
CPB – You’ve stepped into the role now that Steward Berroa is out for the year. Do you enjoy being in the leadoff role?
DB – Yeah, I love it. I love competing. I love, you know, getting that first AB and you know, telling my teammates what to expect. I think it’s an important role in the team and I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and, you know, do the best I can at that spot.
CPB – The run you scored last night. Apparently you missed the plate and then you realize you didn’t touch it. Take us through that play. When did you realize, ‘Oh, wait a minute! I didn’t touch the plate.’
DB – Brent (C’s manager Brent Lavallee) put on the contact play. Obviously Dam (Damiano Palmegiani) hits the ball pretty hard so I had to get a good jump. So I ended up seeing the ball down. I took off and the catcher was actually blocking the plate. So I slid in and my foot hit his shin. And my right foot ended up coming over the bag over the plate. And I feel like I thought I touched it, like in my head, I touched it but I saw the catcher running to the ball. So I think the catcher knew I didn’t touch it. So he was trying to go tag me out. So I just quickly ran over and touched the plate and then go celebrate with the teammates because it was a big play in the game. We ended up winning by that run too. So it was a lot of fun, like the crowd was into it. So it was a fun play, a lot of fun.
CPB – Seeing the play from the press box, I saw that the umpire didn’t make a signal. I actually yelled, ‘Touch the plate! Touch the plate!. And thankfully you did. I saw you were laughing afterwards. You always seem to have a lot of fun playing the game,
DB – Yeah, that’s one thing I try to do is have as much fun as possible. You know, with it being such a humbling game, a difficult game. I think the only way to really get through that is to have as much fun as you can and not take it as seriously because it’s easy to get caught up, you know, having a good game or bad game. It’s easy to get caught up with it but I feel like you can just have fun regardless. Like we’re always gonna be remember these moments regardless of how you play, how you perform, your stats. You’re going to remember being with your teammates, the crowd getting into it. That’s the stuff you’re going to remember so try to take advantage of that.
CPB – You get drated by the Blue Jays, you played for the Ontario Blue Jays, you played for Team Canada. Did you feel it was your destiny to be in the Toronto Blue Jays organization?
DB – Yeah. I mean growing up, obviously like watching the Blue Jays, you always have dreams about it but you never actually like take it seriously. And you know, when I was talking to the Blue Jays pre-draft, it would’ve been a great experience but I was talking to other teams at the time and I wasn’t really sure, like you don’t really know who’s going to draft you, you know. Obviously you have conversations but when I did hear my name called, it was a really cool experience because I remember going to Blue Jays games as a kid and like just dreaming of that moment. So it’s pretty cool that I got to experience that.
CPB – Did you have any favourite players growing up?
DB – I was a Rajai Davis fan. That was my player growing up when he was in Toronto. That was my guy. I remember I went to Roy Halladay‘s last game as a Blue Jay. I went to that game and that was a lot of fun to experience. I was like probably eight years old at the time so I don’t fully remember. I just remember going, So it just fun watching like all the Blue Jays players growing up and just, you know, now that I’m part of the organization, it’s pretty cool.
CPB – In 2019, you started off your career in the Gulf Coast League. What was that like making the adjustment to pro ball?
DB -That’s one thing I always have loved Baseball Canada for, they did a really good job preparing us for that moment. It was a very professional program, they definitely teach us how to be professionals. And I think just like that experience allowed that transition to be a little bit easier. As a 17 year-old, you know, you don’t really know how to handle yourself so I think Greg Hamilton and that staff did a great job reaching out to us and letting us know this is what it’s going to be like. Obviously it was my decision to end up signing but that first year in pro ball, it definitely felt like I’ve been here before. That schedule, you know, the early mornings, full practice games. I’ve been doing that for a couple years with the National Team so it was definitely a good experience looking back. I definitely had a lot of fun. I was 17 years old at the time. It feels like it was a long time ago. I ‘m 20 now, I turn 21 (September 25). But it was a lot of fun. That’s one thing I remember, a lot of fun.
CPB – And speaking of Team Canada, you had that big game with a home run. What was that experience like hitting a home run against the team you grew up cheering for?
DB – Yeah, I couldn’t have scripted that any better, you know. I remember before the game obviously the pre-game jitters, whatever, but I didn’t expect it to go like that. I felt like that was one time, especially in high school, I was really just playing and it was a fun time because you know, like I said, I don’t remember (everything). Oviously I remember like how it went, but like the feelings in the moment, it was pretty surreal. I don’t really remember everything but it was a lot of fun. That’s one thing. It was a lot of that, a lot of fun.
CPB – In 2019, there was actually a transaction on your player page saying you were going to Vancouver. And we were told afterwards it was a paper (or administrative) move. We were kind of excited. ‘Hey, we’re going to see a Canadian be with the Canadians.’ I don’t know if you knew about that or if you were told about that.
DB – Yeah. I remember. I think at the time here, there was something going on with the league, the Gulf Coast League. And I think that it was a hurricane actually. There was a hurricane going on so I think they just had to fill a roster spot, like put us on a roster. So I think that’s what ended up happening.
CPB – You get through your first season and in 2020, COVID hits. How did you get through that?
DB – I actually had the luxury of training at the Mississauga Tigers facility in Mississauga, Ontario. I was with Cooper Davis who went to Vanderbilt for four years. He was an outfielder, a speed guy. We had a good group of guys, you know, younger guys. We were getting our workout, doing our sprint work, staying in shape because at the time, it was a lot of unknowns, like we didn’t know what was going on. So we were just trying to stay in shape for whatever happened and we actually had a pretty good group. Our last workout, our last practice was right before FDL. So that was probably like September, mid-September 2020. We had a really good group of guys and the Mississauga Tigers just won the Baseball Canada World Cup. It was pretty cool to be a part of that and help those guys out. But it was good just because we were all like-minded, we all had the same goals and it was easy to get up every day and go work out with them.
CPB – 2021, your first full season with Dunedin. How did that go, making the adjustment to full-season ball?
DB – It was definitely an adjustment from Complex baseball to Low-A. Definitely an adjustment. You know, you’re not practicing before games. It’s a lot more mature in the sense of like they kind of trust you a little bit more to get your work done. I definitely remember just learning. That was a big learning experience for me, you know, regardless of results. I definitely felt that what I went through that year, the ups and the downs and stuff that I learned is going to help me for the rest of my career. So I definitely look back at even this year and like understand I have to master this level before I can move up. So it was definitely fun going through those ups and downs and looking back, it definitely helped out a lot.
CPB – 2022 so far is turning out to be your best year as a professional. I did see a video clip of you talking about your hitting mechanics and working on your lower half. How’s that process been going for you in the batter’s box?
DB – It’s been good. Obviously there’s a fundamental basis. You need to have to hit a baseball, especially at this level, but I definitely took a lot of time and tried to understand the fundamentals and understand that like your swing is your swing, right? With guys in the big leagues with okay swings and they still hit so I think it’s more about understanding what makes you successful and trying to replicate that as opposed to, you know, just feel like you need a perfect swing to be successful. So I definitely took a lot more emphasis on the mental side of it. You know, obviously being in baseball, you’re going to have ups and downs. It’s natural but I think it’s how you handle those ups and downs and how quickly you’re able to get out of the downs and keep the ups as up as possible. So I think this just been a strictly about enjoying it, you know, having fun. That’s the big thing I keep saying, having fun, because I think when I’m in a situation where it’s very tense and there’s a lot of, I’m going to say pressure, because I don’t really know what else to say. But it’s difficult to kind of be where you are and like enjoy it. So I think it’s easy here where you have 6,000, 7,000 people a game screaming, like that’s fun, right? So that makes it a lot easier and I think just experiencing that and being with these teammates, you know, a good group of guys definitely is a lot easier to show up to the ballpark every day.
CPB – You get the promotion of Vancouver. How did you find out about it?
DB – My manager Donnie Murphy, he reached out to me. We were at St. Lucie playing the Mets. This was our right before the All-Star break. We had a game, a Sunday game. We actually ended up winning that game. I had a triple to put us up. We ended up winning that game. So after, my hitting coach Matt Young comes in. He’s like, ‘Get in the office!’ Like he’s screaming at me. I’m like, ‘What happened? Like we just won the game. What are we upset about?’ So he’s like screaming. I get in the office. He’s like, ‘Sit down.’ So I sit down and he’s like, ‘Why did I call you in here?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ He’s like, ‘What did I say to you?’ Because I guess before my last at-bat, he’s like, ‘You know, I want you to treat this like it’s our last at-bat together.’ He’s like, ‘What did I say to you before your last at-bat?’ And in my head, I’m like trying to understand why he’s so upset. I’m trying to figure that out. And he told me to pretend it’s that last at-bat. He’s like, ‘Why would I say that?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ He’s like, ‘You’re going to Vancouver!’ I’m like, ‘Oh? Like that’s the best way to tell me?’ But it was definitely a good moment, you know. Matty Young and I definitely had our fair share of moments in terms of trying to figure out how I’m going to be successful. He definitely cares a lot and I think, you know, that push definitely helped out a lot. So it was nice to have that moment with him. Definitely Donnie as well, the whole coaching staff in Dunedin. And that was a good group. They’re turning it up right now. That was a really good group we had and it was a lot of fun playing with him.
CPB – You get to Vancouver. In your very first at-bat here, you almost left the yard and that would’ve been like the dream beginning to your career here but what’s it been like for you playing here finally at Nat Bailey Stadium?
DB – I’ve definitely seen everything on Instagram. I hear guys talking, like older guys ahead of me just hearing about it. But I think being here and experiencing it is just completely different, you know? And I think what I’ve noticed is at this level, like no one cares about your last at-bat. Everyone cares about what you’re going to do right now. So I definitely think it takes a lot of the thinking out of it. And it’s like, I could be 0-for-3 but no one else cares. Like everything matters about this moment, right? So like I said, it’s been different playing in Canada. I haven’t played in Canada since 2018 or early 2019 so it’s definitely fun playing in Canada again. But hopefully we can keep it going and get back to Toronto soon.
CPB – You’re from Oakville. You have Damiano Palmegiani from Surrey and you have your manager Brent Lavalleee from North Delta, B.C. How much pride do you feel when you’re lining up in the dugout before every game with those guys?
DB – It feels nice. You know, I think especially like we’re baseball now, like obviously you have your fair share of Canadians in the big leagues but you know, it’s not common. Obviously there are guys playing at the collegiate level as well, but you know, seeing guys in professional baseball definitely makes it feel like it’s possible for that kid at home wanting to get into it. Like it definitely is possible. And with the right work ethic or the right support system, it is possible. So I think that’s more about the next generation of guys coming up for them. It’s going to be seeing what we’re doing at this level. And, you know, guys at the major league level, it’s going to be easy for them to have that passion and have that same intensity that we had growing up.
CPB – Your center field defense and your speed. I know you mentioned Rajai Davis. Is there anyone else you look up to as far as outfielders go?
DB – Yeah. In the major leagues, I was definitely a big Torii Hunter guy. He was really good. I remember watching highlights of Rickey Henderson playing that position. These are all guys that I felt that they took the defense just as seriously as they took the offense, right? And I think if you could understand that there’s two sides to the game and if you’re not performing in the box, you have an opportunity to change the game defensively. So just taking that approach and you know, really taking pride in my defense, that’s one thing. But I think even guys in our organization like (2017 Vancouver Canadians outfielder) Chavez Young, how he goes about his business, how he goes about his work, it’s inspiring for me because you know, I’m trying to get to that same level. So seeing how they go about their work, it’s a lot easier to kind of pick and take bits and pieces from it and incorporate into my own game.
CPB – How do you like playing outfield here at Nat Bailey Stadium as compared to Everett where there’s all sorts of funky configurations there?
DB – I think the wooden fence makes it a little tougher because I can’t really rob any home runs but it’s cool just because it’s a different experience. I’ve never played with wooden fences before so definitely it’s a learning experience. There are just plays that I want back that, you know, it’s a tip off the end of my glove or whatever but I think at the end of it, it’s just continue to compete and have that same intensity as I do in the box.
CPB – Final question. What do you think is the best catch you’ve ever made?
DB – Best catch I ever made? I have a list. I have a list of catches that I like.
CPB – That’s a good sign.
DB – Yeah, I think there is a play. Going by like this year 2022. I think the catch I made in the spring training game with the big league team. It was one of my favourite catches mostly because I think it was caught on video and a lot of people ended up reacting to it. There was a play in Everett (August 16) and we were up one or two in the ninth inning and there was a line drive hit. And I was playing I would say like right center, like a little bit left of the base and it was hit into the left-center gap. So I had to like get on my horse a little bit and I had to like kind of lay out for it and I made the catch and ended up winning the game so I think that was my favourite.
- Uniform Numbers – Wore number 40 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2019. Wore number 3 with Dunedin in 2021 and 2022. Originally assigned number 24 with Vancouver but wore 18 in his first three games before switching to 6.
- Instagram – @dasanibrownn
- Twitter – @dasani_brown3
- High School Connection – Sportsnet Blue Jays host Jamie Campbell also attended Abbey Park High School in Oakville.
- Draft Connection – Brown’s selection was the first time the Blue Jays selected the top Canadian in the draft since 2009 when they took Ladner, B.C. lefthander and eventual Seattle Mariner James Paxton 37th overall in 2009.
- Favourite Superhero – The Flash
Thanks a million again to Dasan Brown and C’s broadcaster Tyler Zickel for getting this C’s Chat in the books.