6’3’’ 170 lbs 1/16/1986
2008: Durham/Tampa Bay
Acquired: 2004 Draft, Round 2
Reid Brignac's 2008 season might best be described as a simultaneous step backwards and forwards. After his breakout season in the Cal League two years ago, Brignac was better in his 2007 numbers in Montgomery: His walks were up, his strikeouts were down, and his tools were still evident.
The tools are still there, but Brignac struggled greatly at the plate in 2008 with Durham. He hit just .250 and got on base at a .299 clip. In 2007, he drew a walk in 9.4% of his plate appearances. That ratio slipped to 6.6% this year. His home run rate was down, he wasn't stealing as many bases, and to make matters worse, his season ended in early August when he was hit by a pitch that fractured his wrist.
The the step forward from his 2008 campaign was his defense. During his breakout season two years ago, there were question marks about his defense and whether he'd be able to stick at SS. He's answered those emphatically, and was named by International League managers as the league's top defensive shortstop. Even if his bat doesn't develop the way it looked like it might, he'll find a spot in the majors. Also consider that, except for a month in Montgomery in 2007 and then the full season in 2007, Brignac has yet to repeat a level like he will when he starts 2009 in Durham again. He'll be 23 this season, so it's not like he's aging out of prospect range.
Brignac has an above-average arm and it appears his defense has caught up. He's got good power(very good for a shortstop), and he'll be looking to turn more of his doubles into home runs. He still needs to work on making more consistent contact; right now it looks like he'll only be a .300 hitter in a career year. He can offset that with his power and by drawing more walks. He's not a great runner, maybe slightly above-average speed, although he can steal a base if need be, having swiped 41 in his minor league career.
Unless something happens to Jason Bartlett between now and Opening Day, Brignac will start 2009 in Durham. He hasn't put up great offensive numbers in two seasons now, so 2009 will be important as far as answering questions about his bat. One possibility the Rays could explore in the future is a platoon of Bartlett(who hits lefties well) and Brignac(who hit better against righties in 2008).