by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Tampa Bay Rays have long been a team that builds through savvy trades and a strong farm system. Despite selling off pieces they’ve continued to produce strong results in ’18, and they continue to find and develop new intriguing prospects. The latest is a 20-year old switch-hitting second baseman, Vidal Brujan, who is quickly opening eyes.
Just look at the numbers, as he’s split time between Single-A and High-A:
- Single-A – .313 with 5 HR, 41 RBI, 86 R and 43 SB
- High-A – .436 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 17 R and 10 SB
Obviously the average isn’t a realistic mark, but there’s little reason to think that he can’t maintain a strong average moving forward. The key is his speed and an elite plate discipline as he’s walked (61) more than he’s struck out (58) over 432 AB across both levels he’s played.
That’s the type of elite bat we always look for, and a 6.5% SwStr% across both levels backs up the approach. Couple that with more of a line drive/groundball approach (20.9% line drive rate, 52.6% groundball rate), and it allows him to use his speed and consistently get on base. Is it enough to maintain a .361 BABIP as he advances? Maybe not, but would a .330+ mark against more advanced pitching be such a stretch?
Here’s the scouting report courtesy of MLB.com, supporting what we’ve seen in ’18:
The switch-hitting Brujan is advanced from both sides of the plate. He already knows how to control the strike zone at a young age and recognizes pitches well, with bat-to-ball skills and a knack for making hard contact that led scouts to project him as an above-average hitter in the future. That Brujan rarely strikes out and has strong on-base skills to go along with natural hitting ability underscores his potential as a top-of-the-order presence, a profile that’s only enhanced by his well-above-average speed and impact potential on the basepaths.
He may not develop into a power threat, though he has added 22 doubles and 7 triples so he’s not a complete non-factor. Even if he hits 5-7 HR, to go along with the skills to get on base, score runs and consistently steal bases, it would be more than enough. While he’s not currently viewed as an elite prospect, his status will only climb as he advances and proves he can produce against more advanced pitching.
Keep a close eye on him, but consider him among the breakout prospects in the game for 2018.
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs