Reid Brignac: From Rays Top Prospect to Struggling to Hold On With the Rockies

By Robbie Knopf

What does it feel like when the team that drafted and developed you trades you away? Even if the deal had been in the wings for a long, it would have to a shock. You would have to get reflective, thinking about your successes and the things you failed to accomplish. You would be excited to head to your next time but still in disbelief that it was over with your previous one. Reid Brignac didn’t have time for any of that.

"“No doubt, I could see the signs right in front of me,” he said. “I’m not an idiot. I’ve been in this game long enough, I understand the business side of the game that goes along with just playing the game.“I knew if I was going to be in Rays camp it was going to be very difficult for me to make that team, so I was really hoping Andrew gave me a chance to get with another team before spring training, to get with my new team and play for my new manager.”"

Reid Brignac wasn’t going to be in Tampa Bay forever. That might as well have been a foregone conclusion from the moment the Rays drafted him. But he didn’t dream of leaving like this. He dreamed of turning into one of the top shortstops in baseball, pairing great power with even better defense, before pricing himself out of the Rays’ budget and leaving via a trade or free agency. He dreamed of being a cornerstone player in the Rays’ success and a player who Rays fans would sorely miss when he departed. That dream came crashing down years ago.

Reid Brignac ran out of chances. He played very well as a utility infielder for the Rays in 2010, but he sputtered completely when the Rays made him their starting shortstop in 2011 and didn’t impress enough in the minor leagues in 2012 to get more than 42 plate appearances in the major leagues. In 716 plate appearances with the Rays, he managed just a .227/.268/.317 line (63 OPS+). He was playing great defense, but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t hitting at all and the Rays had to look elsewhere. Brignac recognized that. He stopped dreaming of reaching the potential everyone thought he had and started looking in the mirror and realizing that the next opportunity he received might be his last. Brignac getting traded wasn’t a wake-up call–that had happened much earlier when he was toiling at Triple-A with no hope of breaking into a starting role for the Rays again. Heading to Colorado was simply a fresh start and what Brignac hopes is the first step in a turnaround that helps him carve out a carve out a career in the major leagues.

Reid Brignac, the shortstop prospect who ranked among the top prospects in the Rays system for years and years, is gone. In his place is a 27 year old utility player hoping desperately to prove that he belongs in the major leagues. With the Rockies, Brignac is just thankful to be in uniform and willing to do anything just to keep playing. Does he have enough of his once-abundant talent still within him to make that happen?