Former World Series MVP helps mentor minor leaguer

By Jake Kaplan

The mentor stands six-foot-one, is right-handed and played primarily third base.

The pupil, though two inches taller, is right-handed and has also spent most of his recent time playing the hot corner.

The mentor was drafted in the 20th round of the 1987 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft out of Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.

The pupil was selected in the 34th round of this past June’s draft out of the same Division III institution.

The mentor had a successful professional baseball career, winning three World Series Championships in his 11 major league seasons.

The pupil has played a mere 32 professional games, but has already experienced his fare share of early success.

However, the biggest thing former World Series MVP Scott Brosius and current State College Spikes infielder Kelson Brown have in common is their passion for America’s greatest pastime. At least according to them.

“He has a real passion to play,” Brosius said of his understudy. “He’s very competitive. All the years that I played, there was never a game that I didn’t look forward to and he’s the same way. He loves to be on the field.”

Brown agreed with the comparison.

“Same fire to succeed,” Brown said of the 1998 World Series MVP. “Same passion for the game. And we both were kind of raw when we first got there and we both worked hard.”

Brown, 22, and Brosius, 43, have known each other for more than four years now, as the former Oakland Athletic and New York Yankee was Brown’s coach at Linfield. Brosius, who was named head coach in 2007 after being an assistant for five years, has remained a mentor to the aspiring major leaguer even after Brown graduated in the spring.

“We went through a lot — four years there,” Brown said. “He’s a great guy. He’s so humble. He cares so much for his players. He’s one of the reasons why I’m here. He was always pushing me.”

When the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Brown in June, it made him the first player since Brian Barnett in 1997 to be drafted from Linfield.

“I was just thrilled,” said Brosius, who was the 2010 Northwest Conference Coach of the Year. “I was pumped for him. This is something he’s worked so hard for. He’s been a very dedicated worker and has a true passion to play and loves to be on the field.”

Brown, a native of La Canada, Calif., has had a solid start to his professional baseball career with the Spikes, the Pirates’ short-season Class A affiliate. He is tied for second on the team with 35 hits and is tied for third with 18 RBI. Many of his hits he has served to the opposite way in right field, a skill he learned from Brosius.

After Brown, who played shortstop in college, managed only one hit in 13 at-bats his freshman and sophomore seasons combined, Brosius helped the rising junior alter his approach from the batter’s box.

Brosius said when players reach the collegiate level, he included, one of the biggest things they have to learn is to stay inside the ball and drive it to the opposite field. Brosius had Brown work on this, and he hit .370 in 18 games during his junior campaign. He continued to work, and in his senior year compiled a .443 average with a school record-89 hits and 72 RBI, starting in all 50 games.

“At the [Division III] level you get a lot of pitchers with not a lot of velocity so they throw away a lot,” said Brown, who was the 2010 Northwest Conference Player of the Year. “In order to be successful you have to learn how to hit the ball the other way and let the ball travel. We worked on it so much and it’s paid off.”

Brown attributes a lot of success to Brosius’ coaching. The Spike referenced a series his senior year at Linfield when his swing was feeling good and he recalled having ten hits in a four-game span. That didn’t stop Brosius from continuing to push his pupil.

“The next day he comes up to me and he says ‘You know what. Were going to work something on hitting because I noticed something,’ ” Brown recalled with a smile. “And I was like ‘Are you kidding me? I just had ten hits.’ But that was him. He realized that I could be more, and pushed me and I’m thankful for that.”

Brosius and Brown have kept in touch even though Brown is busy with the Spikes, playing in all but four of State College’s 36 games thus far.

The mentor hopes to continue being just that.

“The biggest thing is there are a lot of things in baseball that are out of your control,” Brosius said. “Decisions, for example, about who moves up or who moves down, those are ultimately not in our control. I think the biggest thing I talk about is you just need to stay focused on yourself and doing the things that you need to do and let those other things take care of itself. It’s a great experience, obviously, playing in the minor leagues. I loved it.”

The pupil counts on continuing to pick his mentor’s brain throughout his minor league career, which he hopes results in an eventual call-up to the major leagues.

“He’s going to be a guy that’s going to be there for me my entire career,” Brown said. “I plan on going back to Oregon and visiting and helping out around the school and field. We’re going to keep in touch.”

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