The Oakland A’s debuted a new player over the weekend, with outfielder Jaycob Brugman becoming the latest member of the team’s youth movement. Brugman has been a consistent presence on our Community Prospect List for the last few seasons, and he got his MLB career off to a great start in Tampa Bay.
First, let’s begin with the numbers. The A’s played four games against the Rays in three days thanks to a doubleheader; Brugman spent three in LF and one in CF. His results:
- Game 1: 0-for-4, K
- Game 2: 2-for-4, BB
- Game 3: 2-for-3, BB, 2 RBI, sac fly
- Game 4: 2-for-5, 2 Ks
Brugman, 2017: 6-for-16 (.375), 2 BB, 3 Ks, 124 wRC+
Not bad! Let’s run through a few highlights.
First MLB hit
Brugman took an 0-fer in his first game, which is fair enough. It wasn’t until his sixth total plate appearance that he reached base, with a walk in Game 2, and then in his seventh trip he finally notched his first hit with a soft liner up the middle.
He followed it up with another hit in his next at-bat. He once again knocked it up the middle, but this time it got fielded by the infielder and he had to turn on some hustle to beat the throw to first.
Jaycob Brugman's infield single possibly could have brought home Ryon Healy in for the go ahead run. We remain tied in the bottom of the 9th pic.twitter.com/8a2y2IyjQj— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 10, 2017
And with that, Bruggy had not only his first hit but his first multi-hit game!
Unfortunately, Brugman’s first defensive highlight was not a good one. In Game 1, the Rays hit a towering fly off the catwalk in their domed stadium, with the ground rule being that the ball is still live. Brugman didn’t catch it because he isn’t literally a wizard, and it fell in for a triple. Definitely not Brugman’s fault. (Video link)
The next highlight was also a stinker, and this time it was his fault. In Game 2, on a ball to the gap in left-center, Brugman (playing CF) appeared to have a bead on it and plenty of time to flag it down, but he inexplicably pulled up as he got close to his left fielder, Khris Davis. (No video available)
This was purely a rookie mistake, and one that I’m chalking up to jitters. Brugman needs to take charge on that play as the CF, and he probably knows that. And assuming he does know that and will do so next time, he is physically capable of easily reaching the ball that he missed. Did kind of hurt the A’s in that game, though.
But how about this grab, from Game 3?
That saved at least one run, maybe two depending on how the ball caroms (Logan Morrison was the runner at first). Sean Manaea retired the next batter to get out of the inning, so the runs truly were prevented in the end.
Oh, and right before that catch, Bruggy also made an impressive hustle play. Evan Longoria hit a ball into the left-center gap, and this time Bruggy sprinted after it and just barely cut it off before it could go to the wall. (Video link) That kept Longoria at first base on what should really have been a double — and if somehow he’d reached third base on some kind of weird short hop, then he could even have scored on Beckham’s lineout in the video above.
In other words, Brugman twice prevented this from being a potentially bigger inning with a crooked number.
Brugman’s first career RBI came in the sixth inning of Game 3. And it was a doozy.
Note: The pitch was 98 mph.
My take. Yeah I’m embedding my own tweet, deal with it.
Let the Legend of Jaycob Brugman begin: His first career RBI comes on a bunt. Imagine what he can do when he actually swings. #bruglife— Alex Hall (@AlexHallAN) June 11, 2017
He picked up another RBI in the ninth inning of the same game. With the bases loaded and one out, he lofted a sac fly to cash in one of the runners. (Video link)
All jokes aside, though, there’s a point to be made here. A comment from 510SportsTake in our Game Recap:
Cracks me up that Brugman got his first two RBIs on a bunt hit that stayed on the foul line and a sac fly. I feel like that is so representative of him as a player, just a sound guy who does a lot of little things well. Feels like a potential glue guy.
Good fundamentals are not to be overlooked, and A’s fans know that as well as anyone after watching some clunky players over the years. Can Bruggy be someone who brings those little things, while also being talented enough to belong on an MLB roster outright? This is the kind of stuff I’ve been hoping for as I’ve gushed about Brugman for the last couple years — not necessarily a star, but a proverbial “glue guy.” You know, livin that Brug Life.
In an example of When Keeping It Gritty Goes Wrong, Bruggy tried a little too hard in Game 4. He hit one down the line in left (side note: dude can hit the ball to the opposite field, no problem), and he decided to go for the hustle double. Unfortunately, the fielder he challenged was Colby Rasmus, and the veteran lasered an excellent throw to nab him by a hair. (Video link)
Actually, I can’t say for sure whether Bruggy made this call or if he was sent by his 1B coach. Either way, I like where their heads were at, forcing the opponent to make a play. Maybe save it for a weaker defender than Rasmus, but in general I support the idea of aggressive play, especially with a three-run lead already in hand.
Welcome to the Show!
Overall it was an excellent debut weekend for Brugman. It wasn’t perfect, with a couple mistakes on both sides of the ball, but the good far outweighed the bad. He showed something with the bat, with the glove, and with his hustle, and it was more than enough to keep me excited for the next episode.
P.S. Cherry on top? MVP candidate Yonder Alonso called Brugman a 5-tool player, via Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.