Playing days done, Gary Brown now hitting textbooks with a new goal in mind


Playing days done, Gary Brown now hitting textbooks with a new goal in mind

It's common for first-round draft picks to move to Arizona. But Gary Brown's relocation to the desert in 2015 came at a unique time, coinciding with his release by the team that drafted him 24th overall five years earlier. 

[PART 1: Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’]

Now, just a few miles from where new prospects flock to chase their major league dreams, Brown is working to put his in the past.

"I wanna stay in baseball in some fashion, I’m just not exactly sure in what,” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. 

The former top Giants prospect began classes at Arizona State University's Masters of Sports Law and Business program last month. He's not exactly set on a post-playing career, but the fire for baseball still burns.

“Part of the reason why I'm pursuing this program is that it gives me an opportunity to see where I want to go,” Brown said. “I would like to pursue the opportunity of working in a front office, whether it be professionally or the athletic department of a college. I think those really appeal to me because I feel like I could maintain — this might be me being naive — but maintain some family life, being home every night and being able to raise a family.”

Brown's wife is pregnant with twins, which should give the future father a chance to coach in the coming years. Based on his time in independent ball, it’s an experience he’d likely cherish. Indeed, Brown took advantage of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs' coaching overhaul this year and served as the team's interim hitting coach -- while he was still listed as a player. 

"That was awesome," Brown said, beaming. "I wanted to potentially coach when I was done and I think that was about the time I was thinking about retiring so I kind of approached the manager and asked — since we didn't have a hitting coach — if I could be the hitting coach and kind of just help out the guys because I kind of already did."

Time will tell if Brown's path leads to a front office, a coaching position, or something else entirely. But as Brown heads to class to carve out his future, he's filled with gratitude. 

"I want to give someone an opportunity like I had -- many players and many kids," Brown said. "Everything that I've had is because of baseball and I'm so thankful for that."

Giants hope to complete deal with Willie Mac Award winner

Giants hope to complete deal with Willie Mac Award winner

ORLANDO — It doesn’t sound like the Giants will fly home with any fresh faces in the fold, but it’s possible that a familiar one will be locked up soon. 

General manager Bobby Evans said the front office is “actively pursuing Nick Hundley and hopes (to) get that done.” Hundley said at the end of the season that he wanted to return for another year in San Francisco, and the Giants have put a priority on locking up a quality bat as Buster Posey’s backup. 

Hundley’s first season with the Giants included far more at-bats than expected and he took advantage of them. The 34-year-old had nine homers and 23 doubles in 101 appearances. He was just about an everyday player down the stretch as Posey moved to first base after Brandon Belt’s season-ending concussion, and at times the Giants felt Hundley was one of their few power bats. 

There was some thought that Hundley might find an everyday job elsewhere, but that apparently hasn’t developed. The Giants will be happy to have him back for multiple reasons. Hundley improved defensively over the course of the year and proved to be a valuable addition in the clubhouse, providing leadership for a group that often looked lost at sea. In late September, Hundley was given the prestigious Willie Mac Award. 

Giants' top prospect keeps coming up in team's search for outfield help

Giants' top prospect keeps coming up in team's search for outfield help

ORLANDO — The most important player in most trade discussions the Giants have had this week is still years away from legally being able to grab a drink at the Swan and Dolphin Resort’s busy lobby bar. 

After speaking to the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, the Giants approached the Reds about Billy Hamilton. They have talked to the Cardinals about their young outfielders, and done the same with the Brewers and others. They have found that there’s a common theme in these talks: Per sources, just about every team asks for Heliot Ramos, the 2017 first-round pick.

The Giants like to stay open-minded and rarely deem a player untouchable, but Ramos seems to be just about there. The 18-year-old was the 19th selection in June’s draft, and scouts here in Orlando have said he would easily go in the top 10 if the selections were made today. The Giants view Ramos as a five-tool talent, a potential Yoenis Cespedes-type of athlete with a real chance to stick as a center fielder. 

Some in the organization believe he could be the rare Giants prospect to bust into the majors at the age of 21 or 22, and Ramos’ professional debut did not temper expectations. In 138 rookie league at-bats, Ramos hit .348 with six homers, six triples and 11 doubles. He stole 10 bases in 12 attempts. His on-base percentage was .404 and he slugged .645.

It’s a small sample, but you can see why the Giants shake their heads every time Ramos is brought up. Given the state of the franchise and the farm system, a strong “no” is certainly the right answer. 

With Ramos unavailable, the Giants have found little traction with other teams. The offers they have received have been described as wildly unrealistic, and the front office does not want to make a move just for the sake of making a move before the flight home. General manager Bobby Evans is under pressure to find solutions, but he said the front office is united in a desire to not mortgage the future.

“It’s going to cost our system at some level in trades but we’re going to always make sure we keep the cream of the crop in our organization as best we can,” Evans said.