Name: Jaycob Brugman
Height/Weight: 6’0’’, 195
How Acquired: Selected in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB Draft
Jaycob Brugman has flown under-the-radar for much of his professional career. However, after a strong season in the upper-levels of the Oakland A’s system, Brugman landed on the A’s 40-man roster and has placed himself in a strong position to make his major-league debut in 2017. Can Brugman earn a regular spot in the A’s line-up this season?
While his story has received more publicity, Ryon Healy wasn’t the only 2015 Midland RockHounds’ regular forced to repeat Double-A at the start of the 2016 season. Like Healy, Brugman found himself playing the odd-man out role when team assignments were released at the end of camp. Also like Healy, Brugman didn’t take long to hit his way out of the Texas League.
In 2015, Brugman hit .260 with a .343 OBP in 2015 with Midland and helped to lead the RockHounds to a Texas League title. That wasn’t enough to earn the BYU alum a promotion to Triple-A at the start of the 2016 season, as the A’s were heavy on veteran Triple-A outfielders and Triple-A infielders being forced to play in the outfield at the start of the season.
Brugman spent the first seven weeks of the 2016 season with Midland before a spot opened up for him in Triple-A. He saw his Double-A power numbers go up considerably in his second stint with the RockHounds. In 2015, Brugman had a .382 SLG and homered six times in 132 games. In 2016, Brugman posted a .439 SLG and homered five times in 38 games for Midland.
Jaycob Brugman Stats
Despite starting the season in Midland, Brugman earned team MVP honors from the Sounds. In 94 games, he hit .295/.352/.438 with seven homers and 67 RBI. When Brugman joined the Sounds after their game on May 20, Nashville was 21-19. They finished the season 83-59. While Nashville’s strong finish can’t all be credited to Brugman, A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman says that Brugman’s presence at the top of the Sounds’ line-up kick-started Nashville’s offense.
“Once he got there, he was the kind of guy that they were looking for to get them going,” Lieppman said during the season.
Brugman spent most of his time in the lead-off spot with Nashville. Early in his career, Brugman often hit more towards the middle of the line-up. Lieppman liked what he saw from Brugman as a lead-off hitter and said that Brugman’s performance in that role reminded him of former A’s lead-off hitter (and current bench coach) Mark Kotsay.
“I think it is great for him to be up there [in the leadoff spot] because it is teaching him to do certain things,” Lieppman said. “But this is a guy who has some pop. He’ll hit a homerun and he has good numbers: his on-base percentage and OPS are good. He’s high in the organization in those kind of numbers. He also runs well, plays good defense in centerfield. He’s really the guy you are looking for. He’s very versatile.”
Sounds’ hitting coach Eric Martins worked with Brugman in Midland in 2015 as well as Nashville last season. Martins says that although Brugman doesn’t have huge walk numbers, Brugman’s ability to work the count and his hand-eye coordination make him an effective lead-off hitter.
“Brugman is a smart hitter. He can use the field. He has some power. He’s clutch in situations where we need him to drive-in some runs. He studies the pitchers, he puts together a plan, he has an approach and he very rarely strays away from his approach,” Martins said. “He works well out of the leadoff spot and I really like his approach there. He’s one of those guys who gives you a quality at-bat every time he is up there. Whether it is a strike-out or a hit, he’s gone up there and he battles every time. He’s done a good job with that and is probably one of our smartest hitters.
“The lead-off role has kind of evolved over the years. Bruggy is a guy who sees a lot of pitches, even if he doesn’t walk a lot. He fouls off a lot of pitches. He’s a really good teammate in terms of that. He’ll see a lot of pitches, he’ll foul some off and when he’s not at the plate, he’s talking to the guys and letting them know what this guy has. He has the knack for finding the barrel and a knack for fouling pitches off.”
Brugman doesn’t have any one standout tool, but he checks all of the boxes with average tools across the board. He isn’t a burner, but he has average speed and reads plays well when on the bases. In the outfield, Brugman gets solid reads at all three positions. He has average arm strength and strong fundamentals, both of which have allowed him to rack up a significant number of assists (27 in 391 games) over the years. He covers an average amount of ground in center and is an above-average corner outfielder in terms of range.
At the plate, he generates a lot of line-drives and is the best hitter in the A’s system at using all fields. Brugman isn’t likely to hit more than 20 homers in a season in the big leagues, but he has the power to average 10-15 homers year-in and year-out. Brugman has been one of the most durable players in the A’s system over the past four seasons. He has always been a strong finisher, as well, putting up big numbers in August throughout his career and performing well in the post-season (.392/.466/.686 line in 51 career post-season at-bats).
“He just contributes in a lot of different ways,” A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens said. “He’s made an impression on our organization and on other scouts from other teams watching Jaycob. He’s definitely a very good player and he’ll get his opportunity at some point at the top level to show what he can do.”
Brugman didn’t get a call-up with the A’s in September, but he was added to the 40-man roster during the off-season and he enters spring training with a chance to force his way onto the A’s Opening Day roster. Brugman is more likely to start the season in Triple-A, but if the A’s begin a youth movement mid-season or suffer injuries, Brugman is likely to be at the top of the list in terms of outfielders the A’s bring up to Oakland.
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