One Month of Rob BrantlyBy
September is a very important month in the baseball calendar. One may argue that it’s the most important of the baseball season, for teams both contending for a playoff spot as well as those who know they’ll be watching from their couches come October. The Miami Marlins are a team in the latter category, but that doesn’t mean this final month of the 2012 season can’t be a valuable one.
Case in point: catcher Rob Brantly.
After being acquired from the Tigers as part of the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante deal and spending a short stint in New Orleans, Rob Brantly was brought up to the majors and given the chance to be the Marlins’ starting catcher. Despite initial big league struggles, Brantly’s September is an indication that he’ll have the chance to be the player the Marlins believed he would be .
Brantly made his major league debut exactly one month ago today against the Phillies and after going just 1-f0r-16 in his first four starts, he now finds himself sitting at .305/.397/.492 in 18 games. He’s even been more patient since he arrived in the big leagues, as his 13.2 BB% is the highest of his professional career at any level (especially surprising considering he hardly walked at all during his time in AAA). Throw in one of the biggest positives in the eyes of Marlins fans (the fact that he isn’t John Buck) and although we’re obviously dealing with a small sample size, the adjustments Brantly has made at the plate since those first four games have been encouraging at the very least.
Looking back on Brantly’s minor league career, it seems as though making adjustments has been one of his biggest strengths. In fact, he never spent more than 75 games at the same level when in the minors. Brantly had just 50 games in Triple-A under his belt when the Marlins promoted him on August 13.
Brantly still has work to do, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. His defensive struggles were highlighted recently by a dropped popup against the Phillies that led to a Jimmy Rollins home run on the next pitch. Manager Ozzie Guillen told the Sun-Sentinel on Thursday that those kind of mistakes will happen for a young player early on, saying:
“He’s going to drop more balls,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This kid is a baby. I didn’t even know he just signed in 2010. That’s a lot to ask a kid with no experience to do what he’s doing right now.”
Guillen understands that the strength of Brantly’s game isn’t in his defense, but based on his improvements with the bat, there’s no reason to think he can’t improve with more experience under his belt. Guillen also added that he felt Brantly has done a good job with the pitching staff, despite how much the pitchers have been struggling. Calling games will be another area of development and with how often Brantly has changed levels and pitching staffs during his professional career, an extended stay at the major league level should provide for a much more steady opportunity to improve.
All in all, Rob Brantly has been impressive in the month he’s spent with the Miami Marlins and his development will be one of the most important storylines as the club closes out the 2012 season.