John Brownell’s Ducks legacy just keeps growing. Earlier in the season, Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff called him the best pitcher in franchise history, and Brownell has done nothing to refute that.
The righthander earned his 50th win as a Duck on June 3, throwing seven innings of one-run ball against the Bridgeport Bluefish. Brownell has bucked the trend in a league in which organizational longevity is a rarity. Now in his sixth season with the team, he is the franchise leader in games started (119), innings pitched (790) and strikeouts (607).
After pitching in 19 games for the Philadelphia Phillies’ New York-Penn League (low Class A) affiliate in 2006, Brownell spent six years bouncing around the independent baseball circuit before finding a home on Long Island in 2012.
“At that time, I still was unsure of my own abilities as a player,” Brownell said. “I was still trying to figure out who I was as a pitcher. There’s been a lot of great pitchers to come through the [Ducks’] organization and through the Atlantic League . . . I’m just thankful for the opportunity the Ducks have given me each year.”
Brownell credits former Mets catcher Ramon Castro, who played for the Ducks in 2013, with giving him confidence in both his stuff and his ability to have a successful independent baseball career.
“We had a great connection,” Brownell said of Castro. “He called a lot of the games. I rarely shook him off. I saw how he was setting up hitters with the stuff that I had.”
Brownell, who does not have an overpowering fastball, was encouraged when Castro told him the fastball was his best pitch. “That gave me a lot of confidence in using that pitch and being able to get guys out with that pitch and not relying so much on the off-speed stuff,” Brownell said.
As a member of the White Sox in 2009, Castro caught Mark Buehrle’s perfect game. At least partially because of that, Brownell trusted him implicitly.
“I believe Mark Buehrle didn’t shake him off once in that game,” he said. “Just the fact that he literally called every pitch of a perfect game shows that he knew what he was doing and had done it at the highest level.”
Brownell is 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 10 starts (60 2⁄3 innings) this season. Although Castro is long gone from Central Islip, Brownell feels the same level of comfort with current catcher Alex Burg.
“We’ve been on the same page,” Brownell said. “He’s got a great mind for the game. I like his pitch sequencing and how he’s setting hitters up.”
Aardsma on DL
Ducks closer David Aardsma remains on the disabled list with a pectoral injury, the team said. Aardsma, a former Met and Yankee, last pitched on May 28 . . . The Ducks resigned former Met Ruben Gotay. Gotay, who played 98 games with the Mets in 2007, played 107 games for the Ducks last season. He hit .275 with seven homers and 63 RBIs.