TEMPE, Ariz. -- As Keon Broxton and the Brewers were talking last year about how to unlock the talent inside the 26-year-old outfielder, former National League All-Star Eric Davis' name came up.By season's end, you could see the similarities. Between his third and fourth stint in the Majors during a
TEMPE, Ariz. -- As Keon Broxton and the Brewers were talking last year about how to unlock the talent inside the 26-year-old outfielder, former National League All-Star Eric Davis' name came up.
By season's end, you could see the similarities. Between his third and fourth stint in the Majors during a yo-yo of a rookie season, Broxton dramatically changed his batting stance. He lowered his hands a la Davis, who had a similarly long and lanky frame.
"I was with the Reds, and I knew I had seen that before," said Triple-A Colorado Springs manager Rick Sweet, who watched Broxton try to adjust during his various demotions. "He was struggling and looking for different options. This one worked.
"Wow, did he make it work."
Because of that, Broxton is poised to be the Brewers' regular center fielder. He manned the position on Opening Day last season as well, but found himself in Colorado Springs after beginning the year 0-for-16 with 11 strikeouts.
Broxton came back to the Brewers on May 20, was sent back down June 3, returned on June 10 after Domingo Santana landed on the disabled list, then was sent down again on July 3. Broxton was hitting .125 at the time, with 33 strikeouts in 64 at-bats.
"The game is not always going to be friendly to you," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's going to punch you in the face sometimes, and Keon got punched in the face a couple times last year. He got knocked down a couple times.
"But because he kept at it and it didn't affect him mentally, he kept going. He kept trying to find a way. Eventually, it paid off. It's a credit to him."
It was during that third stint with Colorado Springs that Broxton made his mechanical change. The results were dramatic. He hit .322/.355/.644 over a three-week span, including a four-game stretch from July 20-23 in which Broxton went 10-for-18 with two doubles and three triples.
The hitting spree earned him another flight to Milwaukee.
Broxton was a different hitter upon his return. He hit .294/.399/.538 over his final 45 games in the Majors, stealing 16 bases, making at least one game-saving catch, and leaping to the top of the Brewers' batting order.
Injury ended his season prematurely, however. Broxton suffered a broken right wrist in a collision with the ivy-covered brick wall at Wrigley Field on Sept. 16.
"The extremes of his season were really rare," Counsell said. "I don't think you're going to see many seasons with those extremes."
Broxton's name appeared in the news in November, when he was arrested in Tampa following an altercation with police. Broxton issued a public apology through the Brewers and said he had talked with GM David Stearns and Counsell. By the time he reported to Spring Training, he considered the matter closed.
His wrist healed in time for Broxton to begin hitting after Christmas, and now Counsell is considering using him as his leadoff hitter. Broxton has been hitting there this spring, with second baseman Jonathan Villar batting second.
"I feel like I still have a lot to prove," Broxton said. "Every day I step out there, I have a lot to show to the world. … I can't get comfortable. If I am the center fielder, then that's awesome. I still have a job to do every day."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.