Name: Jaycob Brugman
Height/Weight: 6’0’’, 195
How Acquired: Drafted in the 17th round in 2013
The ability to make adjustments is the key for any hitter, but it is a skill that not all hitters are able to master. Jaycob Brugman has been asked to make a lot of adjustments in his early career. Thus far, he has demonstrated a strong aptitude for change.
The A’s selected Brugman in the 17th round of the 2013 draft after he had a strong junior season at Brigham Young. The Phoenix area native turned pro soon after the draft and was assigned to short-season Vermont for his first pro assignment. Hitting in the pitcher-friendly New York-Penn League, Brugman displayed the ability to hit for average with the Lake Monsters (he hit .261, one of the top batting average’s on the team), but he struggled with his plate discipline and he hit just one homerun.
That fall, Brugman focused on his approach at the plate to use the whole field more effectively. That work continued into the following spring with Low-A Beloit and Snappers’ hitting coach Lloyd Turner. The results from the changes were evident immediately. Brugman hit .278/.371/.484 with eight homers in 70 games in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League.
"He has grown considerably. Who you see today with Brugman is not necessarily what we initially saw – not in terms of potential and capability, but he was very much a different hitter when he was drafted." - A's assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen
That earned Brugman a promotion to High-A Stockton, where his power continued to emerge. The corner outfielder blasted 13 homeruns in 50 games with the Ports. He finished his stint with Stockton with a .282/.332/.533 line. At one point, Brugman homered nine times over a nine game stretch. For the season, Brugman finished third amongst A’s minor leaguers with 21 homers (only Matt Olson and Renato Nunez had more). He had a .280/.354/.506 line.
Former A’s minor league hitting coordinator and current A’s assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen says that the changes in Brugman’s approach as a hitter are night and day from the beginning of 2014 to now.“He has grown considerably,” Jensen said. “Who you see today with Brugman is not necessarily what we initially saw – not in terms of potential and capability, but he was very much a different hitter when he was drafted. He was very pull-conscious. To his credit and to [Beloit hitting coach] Lloyd Turner’s credit – who worked with him this year to catapult his season – Brugman was able to make adjustments, keep working and buying in. He understood that he had to make some adjustments and that is a process. If you lose sight of the process and you don’t stay after it and you struggle, you can lose yourself in that struggle.
“To his credit, he kept grinding and, as a result of that, he started to see success. The field started to open up to him. He had a great year this year and he had an opportunity to move up to Stockton and continue that and he put up some impressive power numbers in a short period of time. It’s great to see. I’m sure it has built some confidence in him that he can build upon for the following years.”
Brugman doesn’t have one standout tool, but he is a well-balanced player. It remains to be seen whether the power he showed in Stockton is more of a product of the hitter-friendly California League or if it is a sign that he can be a 20-25 homerun hitter moving forward. He should have enough power to hit 15 homeruns on a regular basis even if his power comes back to earth some as he moves out of the California League. He has good plate coverage and a decent idea of the strike-zone, although his strike-zone judgment devolved some in the Cal League as he looked to take advantage of the favorable hitting conditions (not an uncommon occurrence for hitters in the Cal League). His improved ability to use the whole field and his line-drive swing give him a good shot of hitting for average at every level. In many ways, he has a similar offensive profile to former A’s prospect Shane Peterson.
Brugman is only an average runner in terms of speed, but he is a solid base-runner who is able to go first-to-third effectively. He has an above-average throwing arm and is best suited defensively for right field, although he has seen some time at all three outfield spots. Brugman could get some looks at first base, as well, as the A’s look to increase his versatility.
Depending on how the A’s handle promotions during spring training, Brugman has a chance to move up to Double-A at the start of the 2015 season. More than likely, he will spend some additional time with Stockton at the outset of 2015 with a chance to move up to Midland when there is an opening. Brugman turned 23 earlier this month.