Brugman Healthy, Ready to Double-up on 2014 Success
In his professional debut season with the Vermont Lake Monsters, outfielder Jaycob Brugman opened a few eyes within the organization when he hit .261 while playing solid defense and swiping seven bases in seven chances. In 2014, Brugman firmly cemented himself among the Oakland A’s top prospects with a breakout season that saw him hit 21 homers and post an 860 OPS for the A’s two full-season A-ball teams. Now Brugman is expected to make the jump to Double-A for the 2015 season.
A 17th-round pick of the A’s in 2013 out of BYU, Brugman wasn’t considered a big power prospect coming out of the draft. However, he was one of three players in the A’s minor league system to pass the 20-homer threshold last season. Brugman hit eight homers in 70 games with Low-A Beloit to start the season, but his power numbers increased rapidly with High-A Stockton. He homered 13 times in 50 games and had a stretch of 10 games during which he homered in nine of them.
Brugman says he has never had a streak of homeruns like the one he had during that 10-game stretch with Stockton last season.
“It was fun,” Brugman said. “Basically every at-bat, they threw it where I wanted it.”
The California League is far more conducive to big power numbers than the Midwest League. Brugman says that he didn’t change anything with his approach or his swing after joining the Ports. Instead, he focused on keeping a consistent swing.
“I wasn’t trying to boost my numbers at all, but it just sort of happened,” Brugman said. “That’s the way you have to take it. You have to take your homeruns and they’ll just come for you. It just happened that a few came over a quick period of time.”
This spring, Brugman’s focus has been on hitting low line-drives rather than on trying to elevate the ball.
“I’m a big doubles guy and I’d really like to see myself get more doubles this season,” Brugman said. “I think that is just where I can help my team the most. I am just trying to keep a level swing this spring and not trying to do too much.”
Brugman doesn’t have blazing speed, but he runs well and can handle all three outfield positions. He stole 15 bases in 20 opportunities last season. Brugman’s legs were out of commission for a few weeks this spring, as he dealt with a hamstring strain that sidelined him for a couple of weeks during the middle of camp. He was cleared from the rehab program earlier this week and is expected to break camp on time.
A Phoenix-area native, Brugman has been working out at the A’s minor league complex since January and he was a participant in the A’s mini-camp. Because of that extra early spring work, Brugman was able to regain his timing at the plate quickly after his return from the hamstring injury.“I was here for mini-camp and I was able to get a few weeks of live pitching during the camp, so that accelerated the process for me,” Brugman said. “When I got shut down the past couple of weeks, I already had that time with the live pitching.”
Lamb Ready to Build on 2014 Breakout
It took Berkeley native Chris Lamb a few years, but he was finally able to stay healthy and consistent enough to show the promise that led the Oakland A’s to draft him in the 11th round of the 2011 draft.
Lamb threw only 131.2 professional innings from 2011 through 2013 and seemed stuck at the Low-A level. Things changed in a hurry for Lamb at the start of the 2014 season. Pitching initially out of the Low-A Beloit bullpen, Lamb dominated the Midwest League from the start of the season. He eventually moved into the Snappers’ rotation and had a 2.77 ERA and a 34:7 K:BB in 26 innings when he earned his first promotion to the High-A level.
Pitching only 90 minutes from home with the Stockton Ports, Lamb quickly became one of the Ports most reliable starters. He made 20 appearances (19 starts) for Stockton and had a 3.21 ERA and a 100:36 K:BB in 103.2 innings. Lamb then made one post-season start, allowing two runs in 5.2 innings. He struck-out eight and walked none.
Lamb has always had a lively arm, but he struggled with maintaining a consistent delivery and that impacted the quality of his stuff. He said that he made a few mechanical adjustments and the impact of those adjustments was obvious. Lamb pounded the strike-zone all season, getting quickly into pitcher’s counts. His fastball ranged from 89-93 MPH and he also featured a change-up, a curveball and a split-finger fastball.
Lamb credits his off-season preparation for his 2014 success.
“I changed the routine that I have preparing my body for the season,” Lamb said. “I felt a lot stronger and a lot healthier throughout the season.”
Between the regular season and the post-season, Lamb threw more innings in 2014 than he had from 2011 through 2013 combined. Despite that increase in innings pitched, Lamb says he still felt strong at the end of the season.
“Working with A.J. Seeglier, the Stockton strength coach, helped a lot,” Lamb said. “I got a good routine there to take care of my body, getting to the field early every day to get extra work to stay strong.”
Lamb didn’t feel any after-effects from his increased workload during the off-season either. He says he came into camp feeling strong and has accomplished what he set out to achieve this spring.
“I have been happy with the way I have been throwing,” Lamb said. “I feel ready for the start of the year.”