Brett a speedy second-base prospect with solid bat
Tampa Bay Rays second-base prospect Ryan Brett is the type of high-energy, maximum-effort player who gets the very most from his 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame. He goes full speed all the time and doesn't get cheated at the plate. Brett is the type of player who consistently gets his uniform dirty.
In his senior year at Highline High School (Burien, Wash.), Brett had a .660 batting average and helped his team go to the state playoff quarterfinals. He was named the State of Washington 3-A Player Of The Year.
Brett is listed in several locations as a switch-hitter. At one point in his high-school career, he abandoned hitting left-handed, concentrating solely on his natural right-handed stance, but he hit from both sides of the dish for the first four years of his pro career. This season at Double-A Montgomery, though, Brett is hitting exclusively from the right side, and he is hitting well against both left- (.291) and right-handed pitching (.280).
Following high school, Brett had committed to play baseball at Gonzaga University. Instead, he signed a professional contract when the Rays selected him in the third round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Brett is No. 8 on the Rays' Top 20 Prospect List. He began his career playing 27 games for the Rays' Gulf Coast League Rookie-level team, where he hit .303 in 99 plate appearances. Brett has hit less than .300 for a season only once in his career, batting .285 in 2012.
In that 2012 season, his third overall, Brett played for Class A Bowling Green, where stole 48 bases in 56 attempts. He used his speed to hit 20 doubles and three triples. Brett began to flash some power in his bat while he refined one of his best tools -- his pure speed. In late August 2012, he was suspended for 50 games because he violated the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Brett came back from the setback with a renewed intensity and desire to succeed.
I first scouted Brett this past fall, when he had a pretty tough time offensively while playing second base for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. He hit only .154 in 16 games. Brett scored nine runs, but half of his eight hits went for extra bases -- he hit two doubles and two triples. His on-base percentage was .313 because he walked a very respectable 11 times. Brett stole seven bases, again showing the speed that highlights his game.
I got my next look at Brett when he was a member of the 2014 South Division Southern League Double-A All-Stars playing in Chattanooga, Tenn. Brett made the club based upon his first-half statistics that included a .296 batting average for the Biscuits. He had also compiled an outstanding .362 average in 27 road games. Brett finished the first half of the season with a five-game hitting streak. He looked like he belonged as an All Star.
Brett is a consistent player and a natural hitter. With his solid bat control, he generally puts the barrel of the bat on the ball and hits for a solid average. Brett is striking out a bit more than in the past this season, but his power increase and ability to get on base continue to be important components of his offensive game. The speed remains, as he could have the most stolen bases of his career by year's end.
Defensively, Brett has good second-base range, with quick feet and strong instincts. His hands and arm strength are average, but he should be able to compete at second base at the Major League level. If Brett continues to hit higher-level pitching, he can potentially play the position on an everyday basis. Only 22 years old, at this stage of his development, he will be tested if he is promoted to Triple-A anytime soon. Brett needs more time to refine his overall game.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.