Name:Stephen Bruno, 2B
Age: 24 (11/17/1990)
How acquired: Drafted in the 7th round in 2012, # 224 overall, out of the University of Virginia. Scouted by Billy Swoope.
Tennessee Smokies, Southern League, AA (105 G, .276/.346/.393, 3 HR, 42 RBI)
Prior to Cubs
Bruno had an impressive high school, earning all-state honors his senior year at Gloucester Catholic High School in Gloucester City, NJ. Ranked as the 87th best high school player in the 2009 draft by Perfect Game, Bruno was selected by the Yankees in the 26th round but headed to University of Virginia. His freshman year was highlighted by a 15-game hitting streak but he missed most of his sophomore year with an injury. Bruno excelled his junior year, ending the season with a .366 average, third best in program history. He started 58 games at third, reached base safely in 56-of-59 games, and capped off his college career getting named to the All-Regional team. After the Cubs took Albert Almora with their first pick in 2012, Bruno was the next position they selected, breaking a streak of seven pitchers with the 224th overall pick.
Bruno broke into pro ball with a bang as he won the Northwest League batting title, hitting .361 in 67 games for Boise and ending the season with a 22-game hitting streak. He knocked in 37 runs, ripped 19 doubles, and sported a .442 OBP. He also displayed his versatility in the field, splitting his time between 2B (17), 3B (19), SS (14) and eight games in the outfield. He earned Northwest League player of the week honors and was also recognized as a Cubs organizational all-star by MiLB.com. After a solid spring training, Bruno skipped Kane County and started the season in the lineup at second for Daytona, and proved he belonged, hitting .363 in his first 19 games. Bruno missed nine days after being hit on the wrist with a pitch, came back, played two more games, and then went on the DL in early May. Bruno went to Mesa for rehab and it was discovered he would need Tommy John surgery. He spent the summer rehabbing in Mesa and saw game action at fall instructs.
Healthy and ready to get back on the diamond, Bruno struggled over his first 15 games (12-for-64) but hit .344/.420/.624 over his next 24 games before a hamstring injury landed him on the DL in late May. After returning to the lineup, Bruno continued to keep his average around the .300 mark and earned Southern League All-Star honors. The grind of a long season, especially his first, may have caught up with Bruno in the second half, ending up at .276/.346/.393 with 3 HR and 54 runs scored. About the time Bruno hurt his hamstring, he was drawing the attention of several pundits throughout the game with his ability to square up baseballs. He had a six-game stretch to start May with nine doubles and had his average over .300 after going 4-for-6 with two homers and four RBI against Jacksonville. With good instincts on the base paths, Bruno won’t steal you many bases (6 in ’14) but he does have a knack for crossing home plate. He played close to 800 innings on defense, all at second, and ended year with a .973 fielding percentage in 413 total chances.
Depending on who makes the Cubs 25-man roster out of spring training may determine where Bruno starts the 2015 campaign—either back in Tennessee or in Des Moines. He showed flashes of stardom with the bat last season and if he can find that groove, can get back on track to a big league career. Bruno’s bat will need to carry him to the majors and just because the Cubs currently have a log jam of middle infielders, doesn’t mean that will be the case two years down the road when Bruno is ready to contribute. The Virginia alum needs more seasoning in the minors with only 800 plate appearances and none above AA. He may not make any top prospects lists during his minor league career, but he’s a player that could just find his way to Wrigley Field in the near future.