New Swing, New Results For Bryson Brigman
High Class A Modesto shortstop Bryson Brigman entered the season as the fringiest of prospects. He ranked No. 27 in a farm system generally viewed as the weakest in the game.
His projected ceiling in the 2018 Prospect Handbook was listed as utility player because "his bat has yet to come."
It might be time to reevaluate the 23-year-old Brigman, because the 2016 third-rounder from San Diego got off to a fast start in the California League. He hit .336/.412/.441 with one home run through 61 games, while drawing 27 walks against 39 strikeouts.
So what happened?
"He went through a swing change,” general manager Jerry Dipoto explained. "He’s elevating the ball more. His exit velocity has greatly improved. He’s not so passive in the batter’s box. He’s more aggressive in his approach, which I think has been a positive for him.”
A combination of a crowded big league middle infield—Jean Segura, Dee Gordon and Robinson Cano—creates a scenario where Brigman could make an attractive trade chip for Dipoto as he strives to improve the big league roster.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
If Brigman began the season as a fringy prospect, Modesto righthander Darren McCaughan was only barely on the radar after being drafted in the 12th round in 2017 out of Long Beach State.
But when Triple-A Tacoma needed a spot starter in early June, the Mariners didn’t hesitate to jump the 22-year-old McCaughan two levels. After all they had watched him compile a sub-2.00 ERA through the early weeks in the hitter-friendly California League.
McCaughan responded by pitching 6.1 shutout innings in a victory against Salt Lake before returning to Modesto.
"He does it with deception, command and the guts to throw any pitch in any circumstance,” Dipoto said. "He just goes right after you. He’ll throw an 89 mph fastball with absolute conviction.”
The question now is whether it will work consistently at the higher levels.
Matt Festa Is First Dipoto Pick To Reach Seattle
A career reliever in pro ball, Festa tried his hand at "opening" for the Mariners in September.
** Righthander Sam Carlson, a 2017 second-round pick out of high school, is no longer viewed as a Tommy John surgery candidate, but the Mariners are taking it slowly with his throwing program.
** Double-A Arkansas outfielder Eric Filia came back strong from his 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse. He batted .426 with nine walks in his first 13 games before being traded to the Red Sox as the player to be named in the April trade for lefthander Roenis Elias.