Vidal Brujan is an example of a great find in the International Free Agent market on the cheap. Brujan signed with the Rays on October 17, 2014 out of the Dominican Republic for $15,000.
Recently Juan Toribio of MLB.com wrote about the passing of Brujan’s father this past winter and stories surrounding the Rays signing him in 2014, providing great background on a potential future star.
Coming into 2018 Brujan has done nothing but put up big performances in the low minors. Through 805 plate appearances spread across three seasons he put up a .286/.377/.404 line and 134 wRC+. He put up a 10.8% walk rate and only struck out 8.4% of plate appearances. He showed little over the fence power with six homers, but had 48 stolen bases.
In 2018 Brujan got his first taste of full season ball after being assigned to the Bowling Green Hot Rods (A) and in August received a promotion to the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs (A+).
Brujan put up his best numbers in 2018 with a .320/.403/.459 line and a 149 wRC+ over 548 plate appearances. Over the fence power is coming with nine homers and remaining a nuisance on the bases with 55 stolen bases.
Brujan’s loudest tool is his speed. He puts up plus to plus-plus run times, and has improved dramatically at using it to be a more successful base stealer. His success rate in 2018 (74.3%) is much better than his success rate entering the season (65.7%). It is something he can still improve.
Brujan’s contact skills from both sides of the plate are exceptional. He also has good plate discipline while not striking out at rates that have become the norm in today’s game. Despite the small frame his power is more than you would expect much in the way Ozzie Albies and Jose Altuve do.
Defensively Brujan is solid at second base with more arm than you would expect for a guy who has never played shortstop professionally. He has the skills to stick on the dirt, but with the glut of middle infielders he has the speed to play in the outfield while being able to stay up the middle in center.
This is the first year that Brujan has been on the national radar appearing on many top 100s. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs are the high guys on Brujan ranking him the 26th overall prospect in the land. Keith Law (#59), Baseball America (#64), and Baseball Prospectus (#96) rank him in their top 100s.
The only major list he doesn’t appear on is MLB.com where he comes in as the Rays seventh best prospect and first not on the top 100.
What to expect in 2019?
Brujan is expected to start the season with a return trip to Port Charlotte (A+), but should be in line for a mid season promotion as the performance dictates. As he moves up you just want to see him keep producing against more advanced arms. On the bases you would like to see him improve his base stealing skills.
Brujan will be Rule 5 eligible next winter and is a pretty safe bet to need protection unless something went very wrong this year. He will likely be an option for the Rays sometime in 2020, but 2021 is the more likely time for his first extended MLB action.