What can Brown do for you?

North Medford standout uses versatility to play several key roles for Medford Mustangs
Medford Mustangsí Micah Brown delivers a pitch during a game against the Wilson Dirtbags Wednesday at Harry and David Field. Mail Tribune / Julia MooreJulia Moore

Thankfully, Micah Brown is one of those athletes who simply goes with the flow.

Never too up and never too down, the North Medford High senior-to-be is happy to fill in wherever he's needed.

MICAH BROWN

WHO: A 6-foot-2, 185-pound pitcher/outfielder for the Medford Mustangs.

  • WHAT: Brown was the Southern Oregon Hybrid player of the year and first-team all-state selection after batting .395 with 22 RBIs and 22 runs scored for North Medford in the spring. This summer, he's hitting .357 with 23 RBIs and 18 runs and has thrived in a closer's role with six saves and a 1-1 record with a 2.36 ERA.
  • QUOTE: "He just does everything you ask him to do and you can't ask for much more than that."

— Nate Mayben,

Mustangs head coach

And that's exactly the role he's been asked to fulfill this summer for the Medford Mustangs.

With a little of this and a little of that, Brown has played a key role in helping the Mustangs set their course for a late-season surge in pursuit of the American Legion AAA baseball program's 12th state championship.

"Micah's a grinder," said Medford head coach Nate Mayben. "He's very coachable and he's willing to do anything that needs to be done for the team. We've had him at second base and third base, we have him in center field now and he's pitched in 18 games now. He just does everything you ask him to do and you can't ask for much more than that."

At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Brown sports the kind of athleticism and agility to pretty well hold down any spot in the lineup but appears best suited to run down gappers in the outfield.

He began his run with the Black Tornado as an outfielder but has since moved to second base when not on the mound. This summer, the tables have been turned, with Brown starting on the infield and then shifting to the outfield as Mayben shuffles the lineup to find the right combination overall.

That kind of versatility is always welcome, but Mayben said the big picture goes well beyond Brown's athletic abilities.

"He is a great athlete and that's the reason why he can do it," said the coach, "but the biggest thing is you've got to be willing to do it and Micah's willing to do whatever we need to do. He goes out and gives it everything he's got."

For Brown, where he plays is never really a question. He just wants to be part of helping his team succeed.

"I'm fine with it," the 17-year-old said of his role. "I like being a team player and playing wherever they want me to play."

During spring ball at North Medford, Brown was named the Southern Oregon Hybrid player of the year after batting .395 with 22 RBIs and 22 runs scored and was also one of the team's top starting pitchers.

This summer, he's hitting .357 with 23 RBIs and 18 runs and, more importantly, has thrived in a closer's role with six saves, a 1-1 record and 2.36 ERA.

The natural question of where he sees his perfect fit on a team only draws a blank from Brown, if only because he's never really spent a minute worrying about it.

"I've been a lot of places and I've never really held down a spot so I'm not sure what's my best position," he said. "I like pitching a lot, though, that's really the most fun."

Even with that, though, Brown is getting a lot of unfamiliar action once he toes the rubber for the Mustangs.

"I've never really been a closer before and then when I came into this season I started throwing at the end of games more," he said. "I like the feeling, though. I like coming in and being that saviour for our starting pitchers if I can."

Mayben also likes Brown in that spot, and has used him 18 times for a total of 262/3 innings of relief pitching thus far.

"He throws strikes," Mayben said of what he likes most about Brown as a closer. "He's firm with his pitches, has three pitches he can throw and he may be the most consistent strike-thrower on our team. When you're looking for a closer, that's what you need, especially for us. Does he have the stuff that's just unhittable? No. But he's good enough, and throwing strikes is more than half the battle."

The Mustangs entered Friday's doubleheader in Eugene with a 23-15 overall record and are 2-4 in Area 4 play but, as tournament hosts, are automatically guaranteed a spot in the July 31-Aug. 4 event at Harry & David Field. Grants Pass entered the day as the league leaders at 7-1 in Area 4, with Roseburg at 5-3 and Eugene at 2-8.

The Area 4 regular season champion receives an automatic berth in the state tournament, along with the champions from the other three American Legion zones. If that champion winds up being Medford, then the Area 4 runner-up automatically advances to state. Whoever finishes third in Area 4 will wind up hosting one of three four-team super regionals — with those winners completing the eight-team state tournament bracket. The league's No. 4 team will play at one of the other two super regionals.

For Brown and company, though, whatever way Medford gets to the state tourney has no bearing on how actively they're going to challenge for that No. 1 spot.

"We're going to come in ready to win, no matter how we got there," said Brown, who also excels as a running back/linebacker in football and hopes to continue playing sports in college. "We're kind of up and down as a team. Some games we're on fire and others out of nowhere we fall apart. That's kinda been the story of our season but I think we're going to get it together here in this last stretch and make a strong run for the state tournament."

If his team is to make a run, Brown will be one of those players who will be looked at in helping lead the charge — even if his role isn't as defined as some others.

"The last half of the season, he's really starting to turn it on," said Mayben. "He struggled a little bit early and we moved him up and down the lineup but he's one of those guys who trusts the process and he goes through the grind and keeps on battling and if he needs to make adjustments he's willing to do that."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry


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