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Season Preview: Vidal Brujan

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The speedy infielder could see the majors this year

Tampa Bay Rays v Washington Nationals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Vidal Brujan is one of the most dynamic prospects in all of Major League Baseball. He is overshadowed by Wander Franco in the Tampa Bay Rays system, but that doesn’t mean he should be overlooked by Rays fans.

Brujan receives positive reviews from the prospect community coming in the 20-70 range in most top 100s. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs is the highest on Brujan ranking him 23rd overall. Kiley McDaniels of ESPN.com ranks him 26th. Keith Law of the Athletic ranks him 35th. Baseball America ranks him 56th. Baseball Prospectus ranks him 67th.

Brujan is a smaller framed 23 year old with elite speed. He’s listed at 5’10” and 180 pounds but when you look at him you wonder whether those measures are a little generous.

Brujan’s speed is unquestioned. He has consistently stolen around 50 bases each minor league season despite the shorter season lengths. In the Arizona Fall League he posted the second fastest home to first time of 3.72 seconds (from the left handed batters box) while beating out a bunt. This was fast even by his standards. 80 grade speed is generally considered anything better than 3.90 seconds going from home to first by a left handed batter, so he is clearly at the upper ranges with his speed tool.

Brujan doesn’t have much present power and won’t ever be a plus power hitter. His season high in the minor leagues is nine homers. However he takes huge swings on the ball and is able to post above average exit velocities. Most of his extra base power will come from the use of his speed. Anything in the gap threatens a triple.

He gets the most out of his hitting abilities with great plate discipline and contact management. Throughout his minor league career he has almost as many walks (187, 10.5%) as he does strikeouts (197, 11.1%).

The last time we saw Brujan in games was the 2019 season where he split time between Port Charlotte (A+) and Montgomery (AA) and hit .277/.346/.389 with four homers and 48 stolen bases in 429 combined plate appearances.

What position will Brujan play in the majors?

It’s not yet clear which field position he will end up playing. In the minor leagues he has primarily played second base with a few innings at shortstop to give another player a day off when needed. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but there are many scouts who believe he has enough to be a shortstop. Even as a second baseman this should be useful, as a shifted second baseman plays closer to short than traditional second base from time to time.

However, second base in the Rays organization might be the deepest position in all of MLB. Brandon Lowe currently is the everyday second baseman in the majors. In the minor leagues the Rays have many switch hitting middle infielders with Wander Franco, Taylor Walls, and Xavier Edwards competing for the position in the long term.

Thanks to this logjam Brujan started working out in centerfield last year during Spring Training 1.0 and was scheduled to get playing time in center. He continued to work on his outfield defense at the Alternate Site.

Projections

Projections are all over the place as one would expect of a minor leaguer when the 2020 season was cancelled. Steamer projects him to hit .248/.309/.359 and put up a 81 wRC+. ZiPS has a similar projection at .246/.299/.355 line and 76 wRC+. While The Bat is the most optimistic in him being a near league average bat from day one putting up a .261/.325/.387 line and 99 wRC+.

All the projections see similar types of production from a middling BA/OBP hitter with below average power.

When will Brujan be called up?

There is no set time frame for the Rays to call up Brujan.

This year in spring training he has played at shortstop, second base, and center field. This versatility should help him crack the Rays roster at some point this season, but it will very likely take an injury to get that opportunity.

Even without injuries, Brujan is likely to get a September opportunity to crack the major league roster. With his speed, he could be a valuable bench player for a playoff bound team.