Position: Second Baseman
Following the pattern he set out on during his collegiate career, Douglas has done nothing but excel as a professional. After dominating the Missouri Valley Conference with Northern Illinois (his lowest average in three seasons was .339 in 2007), the Tigers popped Douglas in the eleventh round in 2008; just a year after the Cincinnati Reds took him in the 32nd round.
After signing quickly, Douglas spent time with four of the Tigers six stateside affiliates, including the Gulf Coast League Tigers, Oneonta Tigers, West Michigan Whitecaps, and even the Double-A Erie Seawolves.
In just seven brief games in the GCL, Douglas hit .333 with three extra-base hits and more walks than strikeouts. That general trend continued in brief stints at West Michigan and Erie, as he hit .436 and .263, respectively. P>In the most robust sample of his debut 2008 season, Douglas saw action in 47 games with short-season Oneonta. In that stretch, Brandon hit at a .312 clip with five doubles, five triples, one home run, and thirteen steals in fourteen attempts.
While the Tigers could have opted to promote Douglas on a more aggressive track, they opted to send him to West Michigan for his first true full-season test. Despite battling a groin injury throughout part of the season, Douglas appeared in 83 games (81 at second base), and continued hitting at an excellent rate. In 373 plate appearances, Douglas posted a very solid .322/.384/.374 line.
The Tigers invited Douglas to participate in the Fall Instructional League in Lakeland, and he certainly made up for missed at-bats during the regular season. Nearly all accounts from Lakeland had Douglas hitting the cover off the ball throughout FIL.
Nearly all of Douglas' tools play up because of his on-field savvy and outstanding instincts for the game. He understands nearly all situations on the field, reacts quickly during the game, and can adapt with ease. His transition from shortstop to second base has been very smooth, and he is an above-average defender at the position already.
Douglas is an average runner with good instincts on the bases that allows his raw speed to play up a touch. He can steal bases at a high rate, but doesn't have the raw speed to be given a green light. When situations present themselves, Douglas should have the trust of managers. His speed also plays well in the field, where he shows above-average range to his glove side, and solid-average range up the middle.
The highlight of Brandon's offensive game is his uncanny ability to square up any pitch and hit it to any part of the field. He makes contact with extreme ease, but he also understands the strike zone and has a willingness to work counts into his favor.
Though he doesn't have big time power, Douglas does have the ability to drive the ball to the gaps, and he can generate home run power to the pull side. He doesn't project to hit more than 10-12 home rune annually at his peak. He doesn't get enamored with his power and even in his hottest slugging streaks, he remains within himself at the plate.
The individual parts don't stand out in any fashion, but the totality of the package and his fantastic instincts make him a solid prospect. If the bat continues to show against more advanced pitching, Douglas could be an average all-around second baseman.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
The groin injury that hampered Douglas last season was more of a problem than just during his stint on the disabled list. Douglas was in and out of the lineup before actually going on the DL, and he wasn't 100% healthy until the Fall Instructional League. The injury appears to be behind him and he should be completely healthy for the 2010 season.
Douglas is going to be an interesting case to watch in 2010. His performance gives credence to the possibility that he be pushed to Double-A Erie, and the stagnation of Justin Henry ahead of him also justifies the idea that he jumps another prospect. If Douglas continues to hit like he did last fall in Lakeland, it won't be surprising at all to see him in Erie to start the season.
The one significant chink in Douglas' prospect armor is his age. He will play nearly the entire upcoming season at 24-years old and even at Double-A, he would be pushing the envelope on the standard age-development curve. With Scott Sizemore ahead of him (likely in Detroit), Douglas doesn't appear to have a clear path to a big league job, but continued offensive prowess could force his name into the mix as a utility player.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.