The Tigers picked Brantly with their third round pick in 2010, selecting him out of UC-Riverside. Even though he was a draft-eligible sophomore, Brantly's intent was to sign quickly, and he did just that.
After signing, Brantly started at Low-A West Michigan and had enough time to log 52 games for the ‘Caps. Over that span, Brantly posted a .255/.352/.335 line that included more walks than strikeouts (23 vs. 22), ten doubles, one triple, and one home run.
Brantly continued his pro debut by joining the organization at the Fall Instructional League where the focus was on continuing to improve his defense.
Brantly is an offense-first backstop, but that doesn't mean his defense is a net negative. He does a good job blocking balls in the dirt and he has good rapport with his pitchers. He has plus arm strength but he has to clean up his transfer and footwork in order for it to translate to throwing out runners. He threw out 23% of potential base stealers in his pro debut.
Brantly is a patient offensive player with above-average pitch recognition skills. He identifies pitches quickly and rarely chases pitches out of the strike zone.
Though Brantly has plenty of strength in his well-built frame, he only projects for average in-game power at his peak. No scout I spoke with last year pegged him as anything more than a below-average hitter, giving him 40-45 grades routinely. As a likely .255-.265 hitter, Brantly's offensive value is going to stem from his ability to draw walks and drive the ball.
Overall, Brantly has the potential to reach a ceiling in the neighborhood of a solid MLB regular behind the plate. He has enough defensive ability to stay behind the plate long term and his bat will be more than adequate there.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
Brantly is a physical specimen with a strong frame and excellent work habits. He has had no injuries during his college career or brief pro debut.
Brantly was invited to big league spring training as a non-roster player. He has since been sent back to minor league camp, and he will compete for a roster spot in either West Michigan or Lakeland. With his Low-A experience in 2010, it would not be shocking if the Tigers deemed him ready for the High-A challenge.
Of all the Tigers catching prospects at the full-season level, Brantly is the only one that really profiles as more than backup receiver at the MLB level. His bat should develop quickly and his defensive adjustment to the speed of the pro game will have to keep up. If both continue to develop, Brantly could be knocking on the big league door sometime in 2013.
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