On a recent broadcast of the Minor League Notebook Weekly radio show, host Tyler Hissey interviewed Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. They discussed several Rays players including Desmond Jennings, David Price, Jason Hammel, Tim Beckham, and Reid Brignac.
Tyler was kind enough to type up a transcript of the Rays-related portion of the show and send it to me. Here is Part 4 of 4, focusing on Reid Brignac (TH = Tyler Hissey, KG = Kevin Goldstein):
TH: Another Rays' shortstop prospect, Reid Brignac, has seen his star dim with poor performances against advanced pitching at the higher levels. His strike out and walk rates are concerning, but reports have said that his defense at the position has improved a great deal. How good is his defense? Does he even have a chance to push Jason Bartlett this season?
KG: I don't know about this season. I think he should. I don't think the Rays are going to just because of the whole kind of strange "Bartlett-is-MVP" mythos that has been out there lately. It's a strange situation. I think that Brignac is a better player than Bartlett. But that said, he's a weird prospect. He is a prospect who has kind of transformed into something very, very different than what he once was. And you don't see this a whole lot. It's hard to project a guy like that.
Almost everything we do at Baseball Prospectus, the hardcore number stuff like our PECOTA projection system, but even the stuff I do - the scouting/player development - everything's based on history. It's based on looking at a player and going who does this guy compare to the most in baseball history? And what can we learn about those player's careers to help us better project this player's career? And scouting and player development is the same thing. What does this player do, what do other players with this kind of skill set and tool set have in common? What can we learn from those guys to help us better predict future performance with this guy?
And the problem is Reid Brignac's been a moving target. I mean, you think about what he was a couple years back. He was the California League M.V.P. Monster bat. A ton of power. Much better contact rate than he has nowadays. And a pretty bad shortstop, the kind of guy you go he's probably a third baseman in the end. Not going to matter because he's going to hit.
And now he's this totally different thing. And you go, you know what, he's a really good shortstop with average to maybe a little bit above-average range, outstanding hands, a strong, accurate arm, great instincts, great positioning. But his hitting is not so great anymore. He shows doubles power, occasionally more. Maybe he's going to hit 15-to-20 home runs a year, doesn't walk much, strikes out a lot.
He kind of looks, to me, like a - as strange it may sound - like a good version of Khalil Greene. Remember when Khalil Greene was good? He was a pretty good shortstop, and he hit like .260 with 20 home runs and very few other secondary skills. I think Brignac can be that kind of player. But that's such a different thing than what he used to be, so it's hard to say with a lot of confidence, because he really has turned into something else. So he's a strange guy to kind of get your arm around.
Links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the interview.