Diamondbacks On Bray Watch For Center Fielder
PHOENIX—Of all the things center fielder Colin Bray accomplished at low Class A Kane County in 2015—he hit .310, recorded a .370 on-base percentage and stole 27 bases—it was something more rudimentary that he considers his proudest accomplishment.
"Honestly, being on the field and being able to play for my team every day, I was proud of that,” said Bray, 22. "I just enjoyed being out there.”
Bray knows what it’s like not to be out there. Nine games into his 2014 season, he smashed his foot into the bottom of the outfield wall, breaking the sesamoid bone. He missed the rest of the year.
Fully healthy last season, Bray showed the Diamondbacks the sort of multi-faceted package they believed was possible when they drafted him out of Faulkner State (Ala.) CC in the sixth round in 2013.
Farm director Mike Bell considers Bray an above-average defender and baserunner, and he believes that given Bray’s bat speed and physique—he’s 6-foot-4 and a wiry kind of strong—he could develop enough power to reach double digits in home runs.
"I think he’ll grow and mature into some power,” Bell said. "He can do everything you want a young player to do.”
Bray said he’s driving the ball with more authority than when he was younger, in part because of an adjustment he made with his hands shortly after signing.
"The first day with the Diamondbacks, our hitting coach (then-coordinator) Alan Cockrell said, ‘Hey, what do you think about raising your hands and getting a little more power out of your swing?,’ ” Bray said. "I started working with my hands up more. It’s definitely helped out a ton.”
On top of that, Bray is a switch-hitter—he began batting lefthanded in junior college—and hit .300 or better against both lefties and righties last season.
He opened 2016 at high Class A Visalia.
• Righthander Wei-Chieh Huang is expected to report to Kane County in mid- to late April. He got off to a late start in spring training after a military service in his native Taiwan interrupted his throwing program over the winter.
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• Bell said slugger Peter O’Brien will play mostly left field and some first base at Triple-A Reno. The former catcher will not get back behind the plate, Bell said.