The Phillies needed catchers and they spent a lot of time scouting them leading up to the 2004 Draft. While Jason Jaramillo, Louis Marson and others got all of the attention, Derek Brant will have to show whether or not he's up to the challenge of competing for a spot. There are other alternatives. At Grand View College, Brant was primarily a catcher, but also played in the outfield and worked as a pitcher. Scouts love his arm and opponents learned not to try to swipe bases off of him.
The summer of 2004 provided a lot of challenges for Brant. Not only did he have the competition factor to worry about, he had the normal adjustments that young players face, like learning how to hit with a wooden bat. Offensively, this past summer wasn't much for Brant to crow about, but there are likely to be better days ahead.
Defensively, it all continued to come easy for Brant. He worked well with his pitchers and showed the strong mechanics behind the plate that attracted the Phillies to him in the first place. Now, it's just a matter of figuring out where and how he fits in and exactly where he'll play.
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Offense and Power: While Brant isn't known for his offense, he put it all together, hitting .438 in his senior season at Grand View. Prior to that, he was the type of player who was primarily in the lineup for his defense. He didn't show much at Batavia and admitted that the better pitching took some getting used to. Brant also doesn't have a lot of experience hitting with wood bats.
Baserunning and Speed: He's a catcher, 'nuff said! Not much speed, but doesn't get himself into trouble on the basepaths by trying to do things he knows he can't do.
Defense: This is where Brant truly excels. He has strong mechanics, isn't afraid to put his body in front of the ball and has that cannon of an arm. The whole defensive package is there and there's nothing to worry about. Brant was also more than adequate defensively in the outfield.
Projection: With all of the competition behind the plate, Brant could start playing at other positions to get some playing time. He needs more work and may stick in extended spring training in 2005 before returning to Batavia. It's not out of the question though that he could head to Lakewood if the Phillies see enough to like in the spring, but that may be a stretch.
ETA: It's going to take a while for Brant to get major league consideration. Figure on 2009 or even 2010 before Brant starts to push for a spot in the majors.
Comparison: Remember Keith Moreland? Brant is a little leaner and taller than Moreland and has even stronger defensive skills. Unfortunately, he won't hit as well as Moreland did.