Scouting Rangers Prospect #37: Jake Brigham

Right-hander Jake Brigham was excellent with short-season Spokane in 2007, but he spent the last year sidelined after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the ready-to-return hurler with a Q&A and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jake Brigham
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 10, 1988
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jason Cole: I assume you finally got to leave Arizona this offseason and get some quality time at home. How was that?

Jake Brigham: It was good to spend time with my family and my girlfriend and to get away from Arizona and take a break. Rehab was tough being out in Arizona so long, but it was good to rest mentally and recuperate for this season.

Cole: How long were you out in Arizona for? What was it like waking up and doing the same thing every day for so long?

Brigham: I was out in Arizona for a year off-and-on. I got to go home for a few days, but from November '07 to November '08 it was a grind getting up every day and doing the same thing.

But I kept looking toward the prize and kept my head up. I always had to remind myself to stay positive and be confident in Dr. Meister – who did the surgery – and the Texas Rangers staff. But, for the most part, I just focused on getting healthy and ready for the 2009 season.

Cole: Overall, how did the rehab process go? Did you have any setbacks?

Brigham: I had one or two setbacks, but overall it was a great rehab. Dr. Meister did a great job on repairing the ligament and the training staff was awesome on getting me strong, rebuilding the muscles, and helping me feel good again.

Cole: While on the rehab crew, I know that you watched a lot of games, from instructs to Spring Training to the Arizona League. Did you feel you were able to learn anything from observing?

Brigham: Yes. When I would watch the games, I would go through the game pitch-by-pitch, putting myself in each situation and figuring out what I would do in each of them. I feel that I have learned how to pitch better over the past year, being off the field.

Cole: I saw you throwing some long toss when I was at instructs this past offseason. Is that all you were doing at that point?

Brigham: No, I was also throwing bullpens three times per week. I started throwing bullpens in the middle of September and threw until the end of November.

Cole: How does your arm currently feel compared to the 2007 season?

Brigham: It feels a lot stronger and there's no pain.

Cole: Are you expecting to break camp with a club this year? Do you know what the Rangers' plan for you is?

Brigham: They have given me an idea of my plan, but they want to make sure my arm is strong and healthy. I still have to work very hard and we will see what happens when camp breaks.

Cole: Entering the 2009 season and coming off surgery, what are your expectations for yourself?

Brigham: To break camp, say healthy the entire year, and to play in the postseason and be a leader on my team. I want to work hard in getting myself back to where I feel I should be right now.

Also See: Brigham confident despite injury (November 13, 2007)

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball: Brigham gained velocity after his first professional season, and he'll have to do it again while coming off Tommy John surgery. The right-hander's velocity dropped during his senior year of high school, and he was sitting around 88 mph with the AZL Rangers in 2006. Pitching in Spokane the following summer, Brigham's velocity shot up to the low-to-mid-90s, consistently sitting at 92 mph. The extra velocity actually sparked some command issues for Brigham in 2007, forcing him to make a few adjustments. However, the command improved late in the year until it wasn't a big problem.

There is obviously no telling where Brigham's fastball will be after surgery. The velocity will likely be a tick lower early in the season, and it shouldn't be a surprise if he struggles with command, but both should pick up as the season progresses.

Other Pitches: Brigham used a four-pitch repertoire in high school, but the Rangers scrapped his slider shortly after he signed so he could focus on developing his curveball. The hurler's big curve ranges between 72-76 mph, and it has definite plus potential. The pitch has impressive break, but its command was inconsistent in 2007. He also throws an 80-84 mph changeup that shows some potential, but it's not particularly well-developed at this time.

Projection: With a solid, athletic body, a firm fastball, and a potentially plus breaking ball, Brigham has all the stuff required to be a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. But there is no telling how his arm will bounce back from surgery. Brigham also must develop his changeup and be more consistent with his changeup and fastball command.

2009 Outlook: Brigham should be ready to join a team directly out of Spring Training, but the Rangers may decide to start him in Extended Spring Training to limit his innings. When he does join a club, Brigham is a good candidate for the Low-A Hickory starting rotation. Coming off surgery, the Rangers will probably give him a light workload this season regardless of where he begins.

ETA: 2011.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 AZL Rangers (RK) 2-6 58.1 54 19 58 3.70
2007 Spokane (SSA) 5-4 77.0 69 34 65 3.16
2008 DNP – Injury --- --- --- --- --- ---

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