Prospect Update: Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB

Today we’ll take a look at Vidal Brujan, a speedster in the Rays’ system.

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Name: Vidal Brujan, 2B

Status: Promoted to Double-A Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League on June 27, 2019

ETA: 2020

Scouting: The young Rays second baseman will not hit a lot of homers. He’s just 5’9, 155 lbs. If you’re here for homers, you might want to find another prospect. But if you’re here for a leadoff batter, the type of player I’m clearly fond of, Brujan is the right prospect to drop into your cart.

He’s a future plus hitter, meaning you can expect .300+ batting average. And what’s more, he has fantastic control of the strike zone. He makes solid, consistent contact. He walks, he doesn’t strikeout a ton.

From MLB.com’s scouting report:

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 lead scouts to project him as a plus hitter in the future. He has sneaky raw power in his left-handed swing, and it was from that side that he hit all nine of his home runs in 2018. His right-handed swing is more contact-oriented. That Brujan rarely strikes out and takes his walks 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 plus-plus speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths.

Oh yeah, he’s a switch-hitter.

Yeah, keep reading.

Stats: True to the statement above, Brujan has a .300 average in the minors. And how about that discerning eye the scouts love? In 1,392 AB, Vidal has drawn 172 walks while striking out… 172 times. Let that sit for a second.

I love hitters who walk as much or more than they strikeout. Overall, in his minor league career, Brujan sports a sparkling .384 OBP.

Now let’s talk about the best part.

He’s fast.

Brujan has 133 stolen bases in 352 career games. At worst he’s considered a plus runner. Both Fangraphs and Tampa Bay Rays prospect site Wander Rays rank Brujan at 65 speed. That’s plus. However, mlb.com puts Brujan at a 70-grade speed, which would push him to a plus-plus category.

Brujan has been locked in his entire career. – photo credit: Mark Cunningham, mlb.com via Getty Images

Brujan’s dynamic combination of speed and hit tool / plate discipline is electric and game changing. His power – not so much. In 1,394 minor league AB, Brujan has homered just 17 times. Surprisingly, all of the sites above scored Brujan’s power at 40 or greater, with Fangraphs even giving him a 50-grade on raw power.

Brujan was promoted to Double-A Montgomery on June 27. The line in 8 games since then? .340/.404/.468 with a homer and 9 steals in 10 games. Even with an ISO of .097, he’s still producing a 157 OPS+ at his current level.

I expect the average to come down in Montgomery because he owns a .417 BABIP, when he’s usually in the low to mid .300s.

Summary: This is not Billy Hamilton: The Sequel. Hamilton’s blazing speed certainly yielded plenty of steals and fantastic defense. But the OBP was always a concern, true to the adage: “You can’t steal first base.” And fantasy owners in dynasty leagues have largely given up on Hamilton due to a sub .300 OBP and a 68 OPS+. Yeesh.

With Brujan, you simply don’t have to worry about that. He can hit his way on and then steal second and maybe third. Is he as fast as Hamilton? No, not really. But I’ll trade the difference in speed for a guy who can get on base 35% or higher in the big leagues.

The Rays’ system is arguably the best in baseball, and fellow infielder Wander Franco is right behind Brujan. Tampa has a reputation for easing their kids through the system, so Brujan will need to force their hand early to see the majors in 2019. But if the Rays are battling out for the division or wild card in September, we just might see Brujan called up for base stealing duties.

Either way, it’s very easy to envision Brujan’s name already sketched into lineup cards as the leadoff batter for 2020 and beyond.

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