ST. PETERSBURG – On May 22, the Rays rose to one of their best promises by promoting shortstop Taylor Walls from Triple-A Durham. A month later, it was the turn of baseball’s number one prospect, Dominican Wander Franco. Now is the time to welcome yet another.
The Rays promoted Dominican prospect Vidal Bruján, their second-best promise according to MLB Pipeline, and added him to the roster as the 27th player for Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Indians at Tropicana Field.
The 23-year-old infielder / outfielder is the 36th-best prospect in the majors and could fill in for fellow Dominican Manuel Margot, who left Monday’s game in the ninth inning with an apparent leg injury.RELATED
Although Bruján has spent most of his career defending the infield, he has played more games in the outfield this year at Triple-A Durham. He has defended six positions total this season (middle, shortstop and all three meadows). The Rays value that defensive versatility, but that’s only part of what makes Bruján a quality prospect.
Bruján got off to an excellent start at the plate in Triple-A, batting ahead of Franco as first in the offensive order. He hit seven home runs in his first 16 games, showing why Jeff McLerran, the Rays’ director of minor league operations, said he is “one of our strongest players pound for pound.”
Bruján was awarded the Rays’ Minors Hitter of the Month in May, hitting .315 / .408 / .584 with 21 RBIs, nine stolen bases and twice as many walks (14) as strikeouts (7).
How the Rays will use Bruján remains to be seen, with Tampa Bay already having a populated infield includes Franco, Walls, Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, Yandy Diaz, Ji-Man Choi and Mike Brosseau on the roster. Even without Margot, there are also several options for the outfield, with Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows, Kevin Kiermaier and Brett Phillips.
Bruján signed with the Rays on October 17, 2014, when he was 16 years old. It has ascended through the entire Tampa Bay system.
He was part of last year’s 60-man group for the Rays and spent the summer at the alternate training venue in Port Charlotte, Florida. Overall, he has hit .290 / .374 / .423 with 18 home runs and 166 stolen bases in 448 games in parts of six minor league seasons.