The Next Phenom – Vidal Brujan

Always searching for the Next Phenom, I have set my sights on yet another talented Tampa Bay middle infielder. 20-year-old Vidal Brujan is next on my plate as I determine whether he is capable of holding the mantle as the Next Phenom. Brujan was signed as an international free agent back in 2014 and made his professional debut in 2015 at 18 years old. He is currently in A+ ball and is performing so well that he caught the eyes of my readers and has been recommended to me multiple times, so I decided to check him out. Sufficed to say I’m impressed with the player who currently ranks 8th in our Seasonal Hitters Statistical Rankings this season (you can see them here.) 

First off, let’s try to paint a picture on the type of player Brujan is. He is 5’ 9” with a wiry frame that only holds 155 lbs now. Based on video and pictures that I’ve seen of him he has some room for growth, but I don’t think anyone should expect him to even touch 170. This obviously will limit his power potential, but that’s not his game anyway. It’s all about speed for Brujan. He is considered to have double plus speed and according to an eyewitness report by John Eshelman of 2080 baseball he was clocked frequently below 4 seconds down the line. For those that need a baseline, for scouting purposes, anything below 4.2 seconds is considered above average for a left-handed hitter. Brujan is certainly well above average. For dynasty leagues that use SB’s as a category, Brujan should already be on your list because his speed is game changing. Before you start thinking “oh god not another Billy Hamilton who can’t hit”, let’s dig into his stats before making hasty accusations like that:

2015 (R) 272 2 48 20 22 14.0% 5.9% .102 .316 .301 .404 138
2016 (R) 223 1 41 8 8 6.3% 6.7% .124 .301 .282 .356 125
2017 (A-) 302 3 51 20 16 11.3% 11.9% .131 .321 .285 .378 141
2018 (A) 434 5 86 41 43 11.1% 12.2% .114 .351 .313 .381 138
2018 (A+) 85 4 21 11 11 15.3% 11.8% .296 .421 .394 .523 232

(Note 1: Stats are taken from Fangraphs)
(Note 2: I didn’t include his 9 games from 2016 where he was promoted to A- briefly due to sample size)

I’m really impressed with his first professional season. Only striking out 6% of the time at 18 in rookie ball is very impressive to me. He was also walking 14% of the time. Throughout his minor league career, he has shown the propensity to get on base and limit strikeouts and with his speed that is a deadly combination. As I’ve mentioned he will probably never hit for much power with ISO’s barely above .100 throughout his minor league career (disregarding his current hot streak at A+ which I will touch on here shortly). His BABIP is right in the range I would expect when considering his speed so there is no reason to consider much regression there overall.

His 2018 season so far is his coming out party. His season at A ball has been impressive with 43 SB but it was more of the norm for him with but with more SB success. He got the call to A+ and he has been scorching hot ever since. While this is certainly exciting I’m going to err on the side of that this is just a hot streak and he will soon regress to the player he has shown prior to the promotion. He has a BABIP of .421 which is insanely high even for a player with his speed and his ISO has also tripled compared to his minor league career average.

I think Brujan as all the makings of dynamic leadoff hitter with above average on base skills and above average contact skills to go along with his plus-plus speed. He probably won’t hit for much power and will probably never hit for double digit homers but once again it’s rare to find a player with this blend of speed, contact, and on base abilities. I think the best MLB comparison for Brujan is Dee Gordon but actually willing to take a walk to utilize his speed. I’m imagining a player who hits around .300 with about 5 HR and 40+ SB and if the offense around him is even average could score 100 runs a year with his on base abilities a top the lineup. The Rays have been taking a cautious approach to Brujan’s development so far. I’m predicting his ETA will be late 2020 to early 2021.  

As always let me know what you think about Brujan or any of my past Phenoms. If you have a prospect you have in mind that could be the Next Phenom let me know about him!

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