Kevin Brown jumps right in with the Smokies
It didn’t take long for Kevin Brown to get comfortable.
Tennessee’s newest outfielder has made a habit of working his way around the bases in just two days with the Smokies. It was only Saturday, after striking out in a game with the Boise Hawks in Idaho, that the Massachusetts native got put on a plane to Knoxville.
“In between innings I’m sitting on the bench and Gary (Van Tol), my manager, came up to me and was standing in front of me, stuck his hand out and said, ‘Congratulations,’ ” Brown said. “I was completely taken aback. I was like, ‘For what?’ He said, ‘You’re going to Tennessee.’ My jaw must’ve just hit the floor.”
In two games at Smokies Park — the first after just a few hours of sleep at a Hampton Inn — Brown has gone 3 for 8 with a pair of runs. He legged out an infield single in the second inning of Tennessee’s 3-2, 10-inning loss to Montgomery on Monday, eventually scoring the game’s first run.
“He’s done a really nice job,” said Smokies manager Buddy Bailey. “The kid’s been on base. I don’t know what he’s hitting but he did a good job against a lefty, getting the ball in play with two strikes. We ended up with a two-out rally. Our two runs started with him.”
Tennessee is Brown’s third stop in the Chicago Cubs organization since getting drafted in the 22nd round last year out of Bryant University in Rhode Island. He spent time last year between the Hawks and the Arizona League Cubs. He played in the vaunted Cape Cod Baseball League in 2012, securing a permanent roster spot with Orleans thanks to a grand slam and six RBI the day cuts were being made.
It was while playing on Cape Cod that Brown first heard the line “Be a pro,” from manager Kelly Nicholson. It’s that attitude that stands out about Brown today, said fellow Tennessee outfielder Anthony Giansanti.
“I’ve seen Kevin go through his business in spring training,” Giansanti, a five-year veteran of the Cubs organization, said. “The few games I’ve got to see him play, he’s professional. He goes about it the right way. He works hard. He’s always prepared for the game.
“… As long as you’ve got a plan and you prepare for that plan in the right way, you’re going to have success. It’s not surprising to me that he’s had success thus far with us because he’s a professional.”
Brown said he felt comfortable in his new home park right away. It showed Sunday night when he went 2 for 4 in his Tennessee debut, a 6-1 victory over Montgomery, after getting to his hotel in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Bailey said Brown, who hit .293 with 12 RBI and seven doubles in Boise this spring, is asking the right questions and trying to learn how to play the game. The 23-year-old said he’s picked up plenty on each leg of his baseball journey and it appears his time in Kodak will be no different.
“It’s all over the map,” Brown said. “It’s different, especially the weather being in Arizona last summer, having my eyes burn at seven o’clock at night because it’s 115 degrees. … It’s cool just getting on a plane and seeing different parts of the country I never would’ve seen.”