Inge joined the Tigers as a 2nd round choice in the 1998 June entry draft, after a standout career at Virginia Commonwealth. As a shortstop for VCU, Inge leaves campus ranking in the top ten in several career offensive categories; seventh in doubles (46), fourth in home runs (28), sixth in average (.335), and second in slugging (.586). In addition, Inge ranks second on the school's all time saves list with 24 in three seasons as the Commodores closer. Brandon's final campaign in 1998 saw him put together one of the finest single seasons in school history; posting season totals that ranked him second all time in home runs, third in walks, sixth in RBI, fourth in runs scored, and third in total bases. His efforts in 1998 earned him the Colonial Athletic Association's Player of the Year award.
During his pro debut with Jamestown of the New York-Penn League, Inge struggled some with the transition to wood bats; posting a modest .230/.312/.419 line. His power potential was still evident however, as 19 of his 44 hits went for extra bases. The Tigers pushed Brandon to West Michigan in 1999, where his offensive struggles continued. Despite 25 doubles and 53 RBI in 100 games, Inge managed only a .244/.320/.403 batting line for the Whitecaps. There is significant speculation that his focus on transitioning to catcher is affecting his offensive output.
Inge is a supreme athlete, one of the best in the organization, possessing above average speed, powerful strength, and quick reflexes. His baseball IQ is quite high, and his instincts on the field bear this out. The Tigers love his powerful right arm, and have moved him behind the plate where his quickness and agility have promptly turned him into a plus defender at the game's most demanding defensive position. He works hard behind the plate, and has an extremely quick release to second base, helping an already deadly arm.
Offensively, Inge has tremendous power potential, with the ability to drive the ball out of any park, in any league. He could easily hit 25-30 home runs annually, at his peak. He is held back by his willingness to chase pitches, and must learn to tighten his strike zone against advanced pitchers. Inge had demonstrated significant progress in commanding the zone throughout his college career, but the significant jump in competition at the pro level has left him a bit lost at times. Inge should provide above average offense from the catching spot as he matures, but that may take some time given his early struggles.
Brandon is a tireless worker with a desire to play the game and have fun. His enthusiasm and desire are infectious among his teammates, and have made him a favorite within the organization. Given his propensity to give everything he has, Inge should become a Major League player with little trouble.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% ML
Inge has been healthy to this point in his career, and given his incredible workout regimen and athleticism, he should be able to avoid many of the more minor injuries facing today's players.
Inge certainly has the raw potential to become a very good Major League catcher – one with both tremendous defensive abilities, and offensive power rarely seen behind the dish. He may yet take some time to develop offensively, but given that he will play the 2000 season at age 23, I think he has plenty of time to mature at the plate.
With little catching talent blocking his path up the organizational ladder, look for Inge to get a shot at AA at some point during the upcoming season. He may not be quite ready for the challenge from a physical standpoint, but mentally he is capable of handling the responsibility that comes with taking charge of an advanced pitching staff. With any luck, Inge should hit the big leagues at some point during the 2001 or 2002 seasons.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.