Remember when it seemed like Vidal Brujan might actually beat Wander Franco to the majors? It didn't ultimately happen, of course, but reports of the Rays' No. 2 prospect arriving just two weeks after their No. 1 prospect shouldn't have been so surprising considering.
And yet when the news broke Tuesday that Brujan would be recalled for the Rays' doubleheader Wednesday and likely stick around as an injury replacement for Manuel Margot, it nonetheless caught me off guard. I had just finished writing the latest Prospects Report, in which I concluded that the 23-year-old's promotion was no longer imminent given how badly he had struggled in June.
How wrong I was, apparently not accounting enough for Margot's strained hamstring. Though naturally a second baseman, Brujan has played all three outfield positions at Triple-A Durham this year, as well as shortstop and third base. If he's also claiming Margot's lineup spot, he should pick up outfield eligibility in no time.
- How do we rank Vidal Brujan, Brendan Rodgers, Jed Lowrie and David Fletcher moving forward? We also talk Orlando Arcia and replacing Yasmani Grandal on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
But just because I got the timeline wrong doesn't mean my logic was flawed. Brujan has been nothing short of dreadful since the start of June, batting .210 (21 for 100) with only two of his nine home runs. Though he began to come out of it a little in July, it still raises the question of what we can reasonably expect from him during his first big-league stint, particularly in the power department. Remember, power wasn't considered a part of his profile until he exploded for seven home runs in May. Even if his June struggles aren't to be believed totally, what about that one aspect of them?
Just what are we supposed to make of this guy in Fantasy?
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Vidal Brujan RF
TB Tampa Bay • #7 • Age: 25
Given reports of his impending call-up Wednesday, Brujan is a must-add in 5x5 leagues if only for his speed, which has earned an 80 grade from some publications. That's as good as it gets, people. As for the power, he has done a much better job elevating the ball in the minors this year, so maybe his early home run output wasn't totally illegitimate. His plate discipline is his most impressive trait after the speed, though, particularly his ability to avoid strikeouts, which could make for a Whit Merrifield-like profile that's valuable in all formats. In shallower points leagues, though, you can wait to see how he acclimates.
PIT Pittsburgh • #22 • Age: 36
The season-long numbers, while respectable, undersell how valuable Andrew McCutchen has been lately. Adding Tuesday's grand slam, the 34-year-old is batting .293 with seven homers, three steals and a .999 OPS since the start of June, walking more times (18) than he has struck out (16) during that stretch. His splits against right-handers remain awful overall, which might lead you to believe he's too limited for every-week use, but they've also come around since the start of June. During that time, he's batting .291 with a .970 OPS vs. righties.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #50 • Age: 31
Two turns ago, Jameson Taillon turned in his best start of the season, allowing one earned run over 6 1/3 innings. He topped it Tuesday, setting a season high for innings while equaling a season high for strikeouts. He had only 11 swinging strikes on 101 pitches, but the Mariners couldn't square him up, combining for a pathetic average exit velocity of 75 mph. Between his high-spin fastball and five-pitch arsenal, there's still a lot to like here, and his recent successes, although spotty, might suggest he's rounding into form.
COL Colorado • #7 • Age: 26
I'm officially declaring Brendan Rodgers my breakout pick of the second half. It feels almost like cheating given that he's showing such clear signs of it, batting .309 (29 for 94) with five homers and a .900 OPS since the start of June. His BABIP during that stretch is ordinary. His strikeout rate is low. His two doubles Tuesday came on the road, bolstering his already superior splits there, which means he hasn't even taken full advantage of Coors Field yet. At 24, the former top prospect is finally making good.
LAA L.A. Angels • #33 • Age: 32
At what point are Fantasy Baseballers going to take Max Stassi seriously? The needs at catcher are great, and the 30-year-old has been nothing short of studly since returning from a concussion in early June. His three-hit performance Tuesday, which included a homer and a double, only continued the trend. It's not out of nowhere either given that he first broke through with an .886 OPS last year. Granted, it was over only a 31-game span, but you shouldn't hold out for airtight assurances at a position that's so fungible. Unless you have one of the few stud catchers, just ride the hot hand.
ATL Atlanta • #11 • Age: 28
Former Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia has spent enough years in the majors that we already think of him as a failed prospect, but would you believe he's only 26? He still has his whole career ahead of him and is beginning his second chapter of it as a left fielder for the Braves, homering and stealing a base in his third consecutive start there Tuesday. So where did his numbers at Triple-A Gwinnett come from? He did make a point to elevate the ball more there after mostly putting it on the ground in his years with the Brewers. It's a more suitable approach for today's game, so in deeper leagues, he seems like a worthy gamble.