I hate to give things away in the first paragraph, but Ronny Brito’s performance so far as a pro could be called Trouble With the Curve. Still, with plus defensive skills and elite bat speed, there’s enough projection remaining with him that he’s still an interesting, if fringe prospect.
Brito was signed for $2 million as part of the 2015 J2 class. The same class, of course, that included Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Christian Pache, and Juan Soto. The J2 report on Brito from Baseball America indicated he was considered a player whose bat was not as advanced as his glove:
He projects as a pure shortstop with good body control, smooth actions, soft hands, good range and a plus arm. He’s an athletic player with plus speed as well. Scouts are comfortable with Brito at shortstop, but his glove is certainly ahead of his bat…..Brito has quick hands and strength projection to his frame, so there should be more power coming, but it’s a crude hitting approach and an uphill stroke that can get him caught out front, so the bat development may require some patience. His biggest believers felt his hitting mechanics were workable and thought he has some rhythm and looseness to the stroke with good bat speed.
Unlike the marquee names in his signing class, Brito has been brought along slowly. He repated the DSL, and a broken leg limited him to 28 games in 2017. Sent to Ogden of the hitter-friendly Pioneer League for 2018, Brito had a huge offensive season that still holds some promise for the future.
Defensively, Brito still projects to stick at SS. Some sampling of his games on milb.tv this year did not reveal a great deal, but MLB Pipeline, who has injected Brito at #26 on their Blue Jays Top 30, suggests that he has Gold Glove upside:
He covers plenty of ground at shortstop thanks to his smooth actions, quick first step and keen instincts, and his soft hands and strong arm add to his playmaking ability. His tools will play anywhere in the infield and he saw time at second and third base last year.
Brito put together a line of .288/.352/.489 for Pioneer League Ogden, and tied for the team lead in Homers with 11, just 3 off the league lead. Hitting from a slightly closed stance, Brito uses a toe gather as a timing mechanism, and shows decent strike zone judgement. He can barrel up fastballs to all fields, and has legitimate power in his bat. He even shows some oppo power:
Breaking pitches seem to be another issue – his reactions indicate that he’s having trouble picking up the spin, and he seemed to often get fooled on curves that dropped into the strike zone, or chased sliders off the plate. The Dodgers have tinkered with his swing path to take away some of its uphill element. But ultimately what will determine his future will be his ability to contact – his 30.3% K and 19.5% whiff rates led the Pioneer League. He’s a prototypical boom-or-bust prospect, but you don’t generally see his kind of pop in a teenaged middle infielder.
Brito was placed on Bluefield’s roster, but it’s likely that he suits up for Lansing to make his full-season debut sometime this spring.