On the Horizon: Ryan Brett leads next group of vintage Rays

By Robbie Knopf

Ever since their incredible turnaround in 2008, the Rays have developed a team identity, a style of play that has become synonymous with Rays baseball. Their players are speedy and aggressive in the way they use their speed. They play great defense and can play multiple positions. And at the plate, they’re patient, pesky hitters that can also make you pay if you make a mistake. The players come and go, but the team’s modus operandi remains the same. Ryan Brett is poised to be part of the next wave of vintage Rays players.

At 5-9, 180, 20 year old Ryan Brett doesn’t have the build of a top prospect. In reality, he isn’t. But he can do a little bit of everything. He has a nice line drive swing that will help him hit for a good average in the big leagues, and while he has below-average power, he does have the ability to drive the ball into the gaps and hit a handfull of homers. Brett adds to his hitting ability with great patience and plate discipline. Brett also possesses topflight speed and nice instincts on the basepaths. He’s a potential 30 to 40 stolen base threat in the big leagues. Defensively, Brett is a little bit of a work in progress. He has a nice arm and good range defensively at second base, but he needs work on his footwork and his motions. Eventually, Brett could be a good defender, and the kind of player who could play multiple positions. Brett is quite a while away from the big leagues, but he’s the time of prospect the Rays really appreciate. He has the chance to be a Ben Zobrist-type who trades some power for better speed.

In 2011, Brett showed off his skills at Advanced Rookie-level Princeton. In 61 games, he hit .300 with 22 doubles, 5 triples, 3 homers, 24 RBI, 21 stolen bases (3 CS), a .370 OBP, and a .471 SLG. He walked 26 times compared to just 24 strikeouts. That’s the kind of player the Rays would love to have at the top of their lineup. Can Brett keep this going all the way to the big leagues? That remains to be seen. But seeing players like Brett makes you know that the Rays will be able to keep playing their brand of baseball in the coming seasons.