D-backs Prospect Profile: 1B/OF Javier Brito

Javier Brito led the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm system with a .327 batting average last year and appeared to be a sleeper pick to impact the big league club at some point this season. An injury and a demotion changed that, but Brito's recent hot hitting has restored his prospect status.

Vitals:

Name: Javier Brito
Born: Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela
Position: First Base/Outfield
DOB: 3/25/1983
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 245 lbs
B/T: R/R

History: Javier Brito has been with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for a long time now. Brito had hit at every level at which he'd played, from leading the DSL Diaomndbacks in home runs, runs batted in, and slugging percentage in 2002 to leading the entire D-backs organization in batting average last year. Nevertheless, his movement through the system had been slow. Then, after participating in his first big league spring training, Brito finally seemed poised to zip through Triple-A and contribute to the major league team at some point in 2008.

Yr Team Age AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
03 Missoula 20 97 11 25 3 0 1 7 6 27 .258 .324 .320
04 Missoula 21 232 36 72 17 1 8 44 16 37 .310 .365 .496
05 S Bend 22 284 43 84 18 1 5 52 41 37 .296 .389 .419
Lancastr 22 89 17 26 6 0 2 11 10 17 .292 .376 .427
06 Lancastr 23 265 63 94 20 1 16 59 44 48 .355 .447 .619
07 Mobile 24 440 72 144 29 2 11 72 78 90 .327 .433 .477
08 Tucson 25 53 8 9 3 0 2 8 11 15 .170 .313 .340
Mobile* 25 170 30 9 11 2 11 38 30 35 .276 .386 .524
Minor League Totals 1629 280 501 105 5 56 292 236 306 .308 .398 .481

*Statistics Through August 21

Unfortunately, in Triple-A, Brito finally found a level at which he did not immediately succeed. An injury-plagued start to the season conspired with a crowded outfield/first base situation in Tucson to cause Brito to return to Mobile. Compounding his problems, Brito had only hit .238 with five homers in his first 36 games back there. In the 19 games since, however, he has batted .323 with six homers. His 11 total homers in 170 Mobile at bats now matches his 2007 Mobile total through 440 at bats.

Batting and Power: As big as Brito is, you had to figure that the power numbers would eventually arrive. The important thing for Brito is that he has not needed to sacrifice his disciplined approach to hitting in order to finally realize some of that power potential. He still walks nearly as often as he strikes out; he just utilizes his weight transfer better now, allowing him to put more of a charge behind the balls that he hits.

The sample size at Tucson was small. If a healthy Brito at age 25 really did struggle against Triple-A pitchers, that would have been a cause for alarm. But the way Brito is going right now, you have to figure that he would handle the PCL with aplomb, and perhaps the NL as well.

Base Running and Speed: Brito is surprisingly agile for a guy his size. He will never pose a base-stealing threat, but he hustles and takes extra bases when he can. Listed at 245 pounds, he is every Southern League catcher's worst nightmare on potential plays at the plate.

Defense: Miguel Nava, the scouting supervisor in Venezuela, signed Brito as an outfielder. Brito has actually played more games at first base since, but with Conor Jackson entrenched at first base and Joshua Whitesell demolishing Triple-A pitching, corner outfield positions will more likely serve as the final destinations for Brito.

At the moment, he has enough speed to play either one, a strong enough arm to man right field, and an above average arm for left field. His skills at first base are more advanced, however, and he would surprise many with how well he gets off the bag to pounce on ground balls and scoops out occasional sub-par throws from his fellow infielders. He was named the BayBears' MVP last year, and it wasn't just because of his offensive contributions.

Major League Clone: Conor Jackson

Prediction: Though many scouts outside the organization dismiss Brito as too big, he really is an athletic player, and one of the best pure hitters in the organization. Now that he is developing that power, look out.

ETA: The acquisition of Adam Dunn and return to health of Justin Upton make the idea of promoting Brito this September seem redundant. Thanks to the foolish contract extension given to Eric Byrnes last offseason, there may not be room for Brito in 2009, either. Brito will be out of minor league options in 2010, so the team would need to keep him on the 25-man roster throughout that season in order to keep him under contract. Odds are good that the Diamondbacks will clear room somewhere for Brito and his talented bat.

Send questions or comments for Keith Glab to future_backs@yahoo.com


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