Programming note: Giants-Rockies coverage starts tonight at 5 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
DENVER – When Gary Brown repeated at Triple-A Fresno this season, his main goal was to improve over the previous year.
“After the year before, I left myself a lot of room to improve,” he said.
No, Brown did not arrive as quickly as the Giants hoped when they spent a first-round pick on him in 2010. He watched as the club called up other outfielders over the past two seasons, several of them fringe players.
But Brown did make across-the-board improvements in his second season at Fresno, and the Giants rewarded him with his first major league call-up. Brown jogged into the clubhouse after taking a spin around the open prairies of Coors Field Tuesday.
“It’s cool. I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet, to be honest,” said Brown, who wasn't nearly as emotional as his mom when he told her. “It’s definitely a nicer stadium than Fresno.”
Brown, 25, hit .271/.329/394 in his second full season for Triple-A Fresno. He added 40 points to his average from the previous season, when he had a disappointing .286 on-base percentage. He also boosted his stolen bases from 17 to 36, although he was caught 20 times.
He made two adjustments that coaches have stressed to him for the better part of his minor league career: he raised his hands, which he’d always held close to his chest, and he committed to maintaining a consistent effort and intensity on the field.
“The adjustments aren’t easy,” Brown said. “It’s mostly the mental side of the game, working on that more. I was trying to have the same approach every day. Sometimes I was up, sometimes I was down. That’s the area I worked on the most. I definitely feel I was more consistent.”
Brown finished a single away from the cycle in Fresno’s season finale on Monday. The 25-year-old was the club’s top pick in 2010 out of Cal State Fullerton and set a record for Single-A San Jose with 188 hits in 2011, but got derailed by back-to-back subpar seasons.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he would use Brown to give occasional rests to Angel Pagan, and also as a pinch runner or pinch hitter.
As for the hitting adjustments, Brown batted .221 against right-handers last year and improved to .275 this season at Fresno. In the past, coaches were concerned that his swing mechanics would leave him prone to being busted inside by right-handers.
Brown wasn’t ready when Pagan went to the disabled list last season and earlier this year. He said he didn’t get discouraged when other outfielders like Juan Perez, Tyler Colvin and Cole Gillespie got a big league crack ahead of him. They even used Kensuke Tanaka in the outfield when he’d never played the position before.
“No. I was always happy when a guy was going up,” Brown said. “That’s your teammate. I’d be lying to myself if I said I should be the one to go. The numbers weren’t there. I’m no dummy.”