Here we are once again, Marlins fans: it’s The 4-6-3! This offseason series on Fish Stripes showcases the best middle infield prospects in the Marlins organization with in-depth profiles and comparisons. It’s been a great start with Christopher Torres and Osiris Johnson to start, but I’m bringing you something special today.
Normally, this segment would be about his potential, the fit within the system and future MLB comparisons, but today we’re going to doing things differently. Fish Stripes spoke with shortstop Bryson Brigman this week, and I just think it’s too good of an interview for you guys to miss!
Originally drafted out of high school in the 40th round by the Athletics, Brigman decided to attend the University of San Diego. There he hit .355 with 24 XBH in two seasons before being drafted in the third round in 2016 by Seattle. Brigman has plus tools with his speed and glove, showcasing that ability immediately in his first pro season at Short Season A Everett. His .369 OBP earned him a full season in 2017 in Low-A. His summer with the Clinton LumberKings was an up and down year, which he explained in detail during the interview. He still showed versatility while slashing a below average .235/.305/.296 line.
Things changed for the better in all facets of Brigman’s game in 2018, though. Starting the year with a career high 38 RBI while hitting .304 (98 games) in High-A Modesto before being traded across the country to Jupiter in a July trade for Cameron Maybin. He showed no ill effects from the change of scenery, hitting a career-high .338 in a small 17-game sample with the Hammerheads. Brigman earned his first ever promotion to AA to close the season. The 23-year-old San Jose, CA native is currently competing in the prestigious Arizona Fall League (.280/.345/.280 in 13 games played).
2080 Baseball’s Adam McInturff recently put out a new scouting report for Brigman in which he gave him a best-case ceiling of an everyday second baseman with above-average hit and glove tools. That’s a tremendous improvement from previous scouting reports that pegged him more as a utility player.
Well, I thought he deserved a quality introduction. Here I give you Bryson Brigman.
Well it’s August 1, and you’re a member of the the Marlins organization. What are your first thoughts?
Definitely happy to be a Marlin. This is a very a good opportunity for me, thats how I’m looking at it. In the beginning, it can be hard—you make a lot of good friendships in the Mariners organization. But looking at the big picture, this is definitely a good opportunity for me going forward.
Being a shortstop and being traded to a team owned by Derek Jeter must have been exciting. Have you had a chance to meet him and how was that?
We’ve all grown up knowing or seeing who Derek Jeter was. Being a shortstop or middle infielder in general, a lot of us have looked up to him. I haven’t got to have a great conversation with him, only seeing him while he was speaking in Jupiter...but just listening to him talk to us about the future was exciting.
Looking forward to great conversations in the future and being able to properly introduce myself.
Your ability to control the zone and put a barrel on the ball has always been there, but took a huge jump in 2018. You raised your line drive and fly ball numbers to the highest of your career since arriving in the Marlins system. Any tweaks to your swing?
Yeah, you could say tweaks, but it was more simplifying it...Every week or so, I’d try to throw in a leg kick, raise my hands, and mess with my timing, things like that, trying to do anything I could to get the ball in the air. It was leading to up-and-down success. I was trying something different so often that I couldn’t get in a groove with one thing. It wasn’t allowing me to improve like I wanted to.
Going into this spring training, I wanted to find one swing or one stance that would put me in the best position for success. So if things ever went bad I could have something to fall back on, an approach that would allow me to simplify things enough to get better.
Three Team USA titles in your high school days is impressive. As far as I know, still the only player to ever do so. How valuable was that time with Team USA?
It was huge. I’m not really sure if someone else had gotten three golds, but it’s definitely a cool thing to be able to say. Being with Team USA was great for two reasons for me, the first being the competition every day, whether it was the opposing team or competing in practice. You’re picking up things from different guys who play your position and different hitters, while facing the best pitching at your age level in the world.
On the other side of that, facing top-tier talent in a tournament format...having to go out there every night and compete. It’s helped me slow the game down for everyday baseball. Whether it’s a clutch defensive play or a bunting someone over, winning and losing at the level puts into perspective of where I’m at now.
Main focus of my segment here is middle infielders, which you fit perfectly. First thing that comes to mind watching you play is how fluid you are at both positions. Where do you feel more comfortable long term?
I personally like playing short over second, the main thing being the angles. At short, you have the opportunity to move through the ball and moving towards first base, where it feels more fluid. As for at second, I have the tendency to sit back a little bit because I have more time on the throw. Gives you a chance to let your feet get stagnant, instead of always moving fluidly threw your throw.
Long term, I don’t really know, though. Having the versatility gives me a chance to play both and play them well. For me, I’d like to play short, but it’s really where I can help the team and get me an opportunity is fine by me.
The aforementioned nice play by infield prospect Bryson Brigman pic.twitter.com/ZJM73VEja1— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 18, 2018
Your speed and instincts really set you up for success on the bases. Is that something that you pride yourself on?
Absolutely. It’s something I’ve been working on the few pro seasons I’ve had. In college, I wasn’t really allowed to run a lot because of the way we played the game. In pro ball, you get a little more leeway due to having more games and playing for different organizations gives you more knowledge from everywhere. Every team has baserunning coaches giving tips on sprint form and things like that. Playing with a bunch of different players give you the chance to pick their brains as well.
It’s definitely something I try to pride myself on, getting better every day, because if you can run, then you have a lot of value to a team—scoring runs with less hits, moving guys up. Every time I have a chance to get better at baserunning, I’m looking to do so.
Fit within the organization is another big part of the segment, and you’ve put yourself in a great position. Most success you’ve had in a season in 2018, and fresh off a strong Arizona Fall League. Where do you see yourself in 2019?
I really don’t know, honestly. I think it all depends where I start. I’d imagine I’ll start in AA. Not really sure, though—I haven’t talked to anyone yet. It all depends on different factors. Going into this season, I wanted to start in High-A, do well there, and eventually move up to AA. The fall league for me was really icing on the cake, for lack of a better word.
Really, I’d set the same goals for next year, whether it’s starting in AA and doing good well enough to make AAA, or it’s startjng in AAA doing well...I’d like to set the goals high. Realistically, just looking to start the year strong in AA and see what happens from there.
It was awesome. I haven’t had too many chances in my pro career to play in front of a lot of fans. I’d say the most fans I’ve seen before Jacksonville was in Everett [Mariners Short Season A affiliate]. In Clinton and Modesto, there wasn’t a lot of fans unless in was a weekend thing or something.
With Jacksonville, you had tons of college kids for the “Thirsty Thursday” promotion and it’s just a great stadium. A great city. It was awesome, to be honest. A really cool experience for me.
Last part of my segment usually lists my comparisons for a player’s future. Watching your tape, I see a lot of current Phillies second baseman César Hernández and former All-Star and Gold Glover Orlando Hudson in your game. Who were some of the guys you tried to learn from and watch growing up?
The number one player I looked at growing up was Robinson Canó, actually...I liked watching him field mainly, just because of how smooth he was. No one really moves like Robbie—he’s a player who just moves differently as a human being. Watching the way he does things is just really cool and being drafted by the Mariners. It was awesome being able to meet him. I was actually in a BP group with him and Nelson Cruz early in my career, which was insane, seeing these guys tear the cover off the ball while I’m hitting line drives. It was definitely a cool moment for me.
I happened to see you in the cages in Jupiter in August and, low key, you might have the best hair in the organization. Sticking with the flow in 2019?
Still got the flow going here. I’d like to say it has some mojo going for me. I’m trying to keep it going as long as I can. Definitely getting out of control, though. Taking me quite a bit of time every day just to look decent, but I love it, man. Something I’m gonna keep rolling with.
It’s Halloween this week and I can’t let your 80-grade Halloween costume go unnoticed. Is Hector Zeroni a go-to costume?
Actually, I got the idea for Zero after someone called me it the first few weeks we were out here in Arizona. I think it was the hair, but putting some thought into it I realized that it would be a pretty good Halloween costume. So I went for the Zeroni and got some really good comments for it. I wish I had a big jug or satchel, but I think I did it some justice.
Finally, November is here, and you get some time off. What are most looking forward to this offseason?
Honestly getting back and really just getting back to work. That was kinda the mindset I had going into this season as well. After my season in Low-A, I wasn’t too happy with my performance, so I knew I had to work. I took maybe a week or so off before I was back in the gym. I had a good group of pro guys around me at that time pushing me to get better. I was back taking classes in San Diego. I happened to see other guys every day like Kyle Holder and Austin Green, so we just showed up and got to work.
That’s kinda what I’m looking forward to again this offseason—just seeing how good I can get. Continuing to put the work in cause as soon as you think you have the game figured out is when it flips the tables on you a little bit. Being the best I can be.
Man, if that doesn’t make you like Bryson Brigman, as a player I don’t know what will. Had me wanting to buy a Jumbo Shrimp Jersey five minutes into the interview.
Brigman exemplifies the term “gamer”—a player who’s giving you every ounce of his abilities every time he’s on the field. Being the humble kid that he is, he has set expectations for 2019 that I feel he will blow past. Don’t be surprised if you see Brigman turning double play magic in Marlins Park in September next year.
That’s a wrap on this week’s edition of The 4-6-3! I had the best time speaking with him and relaying his story to all of you.
Follow Bryson Brigman on Twitter and Instagram (@brysonbrigman)