Scouting Yankees Prospect #48: Chris Breen

The Yankees selected catcher Chris Breen in the 12th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Winter Springs High School in Florida. He made almost an immediate switch to the outfield and first base to help better develop his potential impact bat, and he proved it to be a smart move with his breakout season in Staten Island last year.

[Photo by Robert Pimpsner]

Vital Statistics:
Name: Chris Breen
Position: Outfield
DOB: March 26, 1994
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He bounced back from a sub-par first full season in 2013 that saw him hit just .214 while repeating the Gulf Coast League in a big way last year, hitting a more respectable .281 with eight home runs and a New York Penn League leading .881 OPS for the Staten Island Yankees.

"I feel like it was a solid year," he said. "I felt like I made some good strides in the direction I wanted to go improving my overall game and I feel like hitting-wise a lot of things just clicked for me.

"It's not one specific thing or put my finger on exactly what it was but it was an overall thing with my approach and really for me defining my mental approach going from at-bat to at-bat and from game to game, that was the biggest thing for me, and I think that translated into better results."

In hindsight he admits to pressing a bit in his season prior, perhaps trying a bit too hard to become the powerful impact bat he and many team insiders believed he was capable of becoming. Rather than forcing the issue, Breen went back to what had given him success in the earlier part of his career.

"The hitting approach, I worked with [Staten Island hitting coach] Ty Hawkins a lot and we really clicked. I got some good stuff going on during the season. Getting back to utilizing the whole field, not necessarily worrying about hitting home runs and stuff like that. I think that helped me.

"The home runs are going to happen when they happen. I think going up there and sticking with my plan and really trusting in that, and taking smaller positives out of games. You might not get hits but I might have a good at-bat here, like 'I hit the ball on a good pitch here', being able to take smaller positive out of the negative. I think that ties into my approach and that allows me to really click.

"I think that's a big thing for me, it's really learning how to be a better professional baseball player. I think that's one thing I've continued to learn each season. I've learned something different each year that's helped me become a better professional overall."

What has also helped him become a better professional ball player is his developing defensive game. Built like a slugger, the former high school catcher was moved from behind the plate during Instructional League a couple a months after being drafted and, once merely thought of as a designated hitter type, he has been able to turn himself into a solid defensive corner outfielder and has also showed some promise at first base.

"When they talked to me about moving out from behind the plate -- I caught all of my life in high school and I wasn't really upset about it after going through that first summer in the GCL and realizing how much catching they really do; six to eight bullpens per day and then the games. It's just really, really a lot of work and it's tough on your legs.

"I wasn't upset about it because I'm a fairly decent athlete. I could run and whatnot in high school. I never really played extensive outfield, just some here and there. With the speed training and building up my arm strength I did pretty well. I'm comfortable whether it be left field or right field. Wherever they want to put me, I've played those positions before and I know I can do it. It's just more about showing these guys in the organization what I can do."

Proving to be quite capable with the glove in the field it is his impact bat, however, that could take him where he wants to go long-term. He has begun proving his offensive potential but he also realizes there is a lot more left in the tank so he wants to just keep building on the momentum of his developing game.

"Just continuing to improve overall -- there's not one specific thing I'm really focusing on," he said. "I'm continuing to improve my body, keeping the muscle and dropping the body fat, continuing to do my running and hitting, just everything I did last year but continuing to work on that but take it to the next level.

"I'm just continuing to work hard at each one of those things, having smaller goals week to week and month to month and then at the end of the offseason be able to look at it and see what kind of progress I made."

That steady approach to his development has allowed him to mature as a professional and it has his confidence rising with each passing day. But while some outsiders might look at his breakout season with some degree of surprise, it didn't come as a shock to Breen.

"I've always known what I'm capable of and it's more about being able to show more and more people that. I know how I train and what I'm capable of doing. This [past] year was more about the mental aspect, handling the daily grind of the long season in a more mature and less pressing way.

"Instead of pressing for the results, learning to take the smaller positives here and there from different stuff and using that to build on. I looked at things differently and it's helped me a better professional in every aspect of the game; confidence, offense, defense."

What is pretty scary though is that as good as he was in 2014 he knows he can be so much better going forward and he believes he's just scratching the surface of his abilities.

"Yeah I think no matter what if you're satisfied with anything you do in the minor leagues you're not setting your goals high enough. To me you're cheating yourself out of stuff if you do that. I feel like I can continue to improve in different areas that I'm working on in the offseason right now that I'm hitting hard for next year to make a leap forward in," he concluded.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2014 Staten Island .281 224 16 8 28 34 0 33 71 .376 .504
2013 GCL Yankees .214 201 10 5 34 31 3 19 56 .292 .368
2012 GCL Yankees .274 84 6 0 7 12 0 3 17 .308 .369


Batting and Power. First and foremost, with above average to plus power potential to all fields given his rock-solid frame, Breen has all the earmarks of a burgeoning slugger. When he commits to using the entire field, however, and not being so pull-happy in the name of hitting more home runs he shows an ability to be a very consistent hitter too. He has a quick, short and compact stroke for a slugging type, and while he hasn't draw too many walks thus far he does show a propensity for sitting on his pitch and has good patience at the plate. If that patience will ever develop into a designed plan to draw more walks remains a wait and see aspect of his game for now, but with good strike zone discipline already he appears to have the chance to be a high on-base hitter if things break right.

Base Running and Speed. Like most sluggers Breen's impact in the running game will be minimal. He shows better than average speed for a guy his size but he isn't much more than adequate as a station to station runner.

Defense. Breen's solid wheels for a slugger type and the fact that he has above average arm strength and shows good accuracy with his throws has allowed him to become more than serviceable as a corner outfielder. He does pale in comparison to other more athletic outfielders, however, so keeping up on his agility drills and physique as he continues to grow will be of the utmost importance if he is to stick in the field. While he has proven to be adequate at first base too, his arm plays better in the outfield. He can be an average defender.

Projection. While Breen has the defensive chops to not only stick in the outfield but be pretty good there, he doesn't quite compare athletically to others so the bat is going to be his meal ticket long-term. With good patience at the plate and a short and compact stroke, as long as he sticks to his approach of using the whole field and letting his natural above average or better power potential play out, he has the chance to be an impact bat down the road. In a lot of ways he compares to a bigger version of Baltimore's Steven Pearce an outfielder/first baseman type whose offensive contributions weigh more than his athleticism.

ETA. 2018. Breen is ready for the long-season leagues. He should open up the 2015 campaign as one of the offensive mainstays in the heart of the Charleston RiverDogs lineup with a chance to see some late-season action in high-A Tampa if he continues his consistent hitting ways.


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