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Vidal Brujan Comes To Play Every Day

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BEST PLAYER

While 17-year-old shortstop Wander Franco had a wonderful season in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, hitting .351/.418/.587 with 11 home runs in 61 games, he did so six levels from the major leagues.

First baseman Nate Lowe, meanwhile, worked his way through the top three levels of the system, reaching Triple-A Durham for 28 games and batting .330/.416/.568 overall with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs in 130 games.

The Rays would like to think that the 23-year-old will no longer be known only as the older brother of outfielder Josh Lowe, the Rays' first-round pick in the same 2016 draft that Nate was a 13th-rounder out of Mississippi State.

BEST PITCHER

Lefthanded reliever Colin Poche made a name for himself in a hurry after joining the organization on May 1 as the player to be named from the February three-team deal in which Tampa Bay traded Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks.

Acquired from Arizona’s Double-A team, the 24-year-old Poche pitched just three times for the Rays' Montgomery affiliate before being promoted to Triple-A, where he made quite a name for himself.

Consider these numbers for his full season between the two levels: 40 games, 66 innings, 33 hits, 19 walks, 110 strikeouts and a .151 opponent average. Poche thrives with a low-90s fastball that batters just don't track out of his hand.

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KEEP AN EYE ON

Second baseman Vidal Brujan, who moved from low Class A Bowling Green to high Class A Charlotte, got a lot of attention for his Aug. 22 game for the Stone Crabs when he went 3-for-3 with two home runs, five RBIs, four runs and three steals, a composite line never posted by a big league player.

But the Rays have been watching the 20-year-old Brujan for years, and watching him grow as a resourceful hitter, middle of the infield defender and aggressive baserunner.

"Brujan keeps getting better in all facets of the game,’’ farm director Mitch Lukevics said.

This season Brujan hit .320/.403/.459 with nine home runs, 55 stolen bases and nearly as many walks (63) as strikeouts (68). The Rays signed him for $15,000 in October 2014 as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic, so they have a pretty good read on what he has done on and off the field.

"He has mentally and physically matured,’’ Lukevics said. "He comes to play with high energy every day. Never a let down. All of that, plus he's a highly skilled player.’’

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