Scouting Mets' Prospect #29: Craig Brazell
Brazell May Not Get Shot With Mets
Brazell May Not Get Shot With Mets

Posted Dec 7, 2004


The New York Mets drafted Craig Brazell in the 5th round of the 1998 draft out of Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama. Drafted as a catcher, Brazell has turned into a good first baseman since switching positions back in 1999. Brazell ranks #29 in our Top 50 Mets' prospects. (Free Preview of Premium Content)

Vital Statistics:
Name: Craig Brazell
Position: First Base
DOB: May 10, 1980
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 210
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

After signing with the Mets in June of 1998, Craig Brazell made his professional debut as a catcher with the Kingsport Mets in the rookie Appalachian League. After two very good season behind the plate for the K-Mets, the Mets decided to move Brazell over to first base to save him from the wear and tear of catching, as he was a little too big to be catching. They also wanted to get his potent bat in the lineup and keep him, and his power stroke, fresh. The adjustment was not an easy one for Brazell as he hit a career-low .241 while playing first base for the Capital City Bombers in 2000, his first full year at his new position.

The Mets had Brazell repeat another year in the South Atlantic League in 2001 to get some more seasoning at first base and he responded very well, hitting .308 at the plate and making tremendous strides in his defensive game. Through the years nobody worked harder at his craft than Craig Brazell. "My defense has got a lot better over the years, and it's taken me a long time to learn how to play first base. It's definitely a work in progress. I feel like I'm good at what I do, but I can get better. There's always room for improvement", Brazell told NYfansonly.com after being called up to Shea Stadium this past summer.

Offensively, the knock on Brazell has been his lack of drawing walks, which has hurt his overall on-base percentage. In fact, he hasn't been over .350 in on-base percentage for a season since moving over to first base back in 1999. Still, despite the lack of walks, Brazell has been a very productive hitter and has amassed a career batting average of .285 over his seven minor league seasons.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Norfolk

.265

475

126

23

67

66

1

21

99

.300

.465

2003

Norfolk

.261

46

12

0

1

4

1

1

8

.292

.328

2003

Binghamton

.292

432

126

17

76

58

4

23

97

.331

.472

2002

Binghamton

.308

130

40

6

19

14

0

1

28

.343

.508

2002

St. Lucie

.266

402

107

16

82

38

2

13

78

.292

.463

2001

Cap City

.308

331

102

19

72

51

0

15

74

.343

.586

2000

Cap City

.241

406

98

8

57

35

3

15

82

.279

.369

1999

Kingsport

.385

221

85

6

39

27

6

7

34

.422

.548

1998

Kingsport

.298

47

14

1

6

6

0

2

13

.340

.468


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. Brazell is not your "Moneyball" type of player. As badly as the Mets wanted him to draw more walks, Brazell has maintained his aggressiveness at the plate and has produced quite nicely at every level. Despite not drawing many walks, Brazell is a very good contact hitter as his .285 career average indicates. The ball jumps off of his bat and he has a lot of power in his athletic frame. He uses all fields when he hits and hit a career high 23 homeruns in AAA this past season. He's a better hitter than his averages at Norfolk indicate. Brazell is a .270-.280 hitter that will hit 20+ homeruns annually.

Base Running and Speed. Brazell won't kill a team on the base paths. He has adequate speed for a first baseman.

Defense. Brazell has come a long way defensively at first base. He can pick the ball out of the dirt with the best of them and has decent range at first base. The problems he was having earlier in his days at first base was dealing with the balls hit his way down the line, but has shown vast improvement in this area. Despite coming up as a catcher, Brazell has turned himself into a legitimate defensive first baseman.

Projection. If Brazell was in any other farm system (beside the Yankees), he would project to be a starting first baseman with good power potential. The simple fact of the matter is he plays in New York and he's not likely to get a shot as an everyday first baseman playing in the Big Apple. For the Mets, Brazell figures to project as a very valuable left-handed pinch hitter and part-time player. He's still only 24 years old and could some day be a starting first baseman for somebody, but only a trade is going to aid his cause.

ETA. 2005. The Met have made it known that first base is a priority of theirs this off-season and Brazell does not figure in those plans on a full-time basis. He earned a September call-up last year and he'll most likely earn a spot on the bench with a good Spring Training in 2005. Otherwise, he'll be sent back to Norfolk next season to play first base and be the Mets' backup option should the need for him arise.

First Basemen

2004 Team

Craig Brazell

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Brett Harper

AA - Binghamton Mets

Jay Caligiuri A - St. Lucie Mets
Ian Bladergroen A - Capital City Bombers
Andrew Wilson A - Capital City Bombers
Tyler Davidson A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Jim Burt A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Jabe Bergeron R - Kingsport Mets
Felix Cerda R - Kingsport Mets
Mike Carp R - Gulf Coast Mets


Comments

The Mets have some decent first base prospects, especially at the lower levels. The first base prospect that seems to have the highest ceiling at this point is the Bombers' Ian Bladergroen. But don't count out Brett Harper, the son of a former Major Leaguer, as a legit first base prospect. He has the pedigree and tremendous work ethic to make it all the way to Shea Stadium. And though just early, Mike Carp from the Gulf Coast League Mets has the potential to be a rising star among the Mets' prospects in the coming years. Here's a quick breakdown the Mets' first base prospects:

1) Craig Brazell - Brazell is a good defensive first baseman with excellent power and a good stroke at the plate. His only downfall in his development has been his lack of walks. A contact hitter, Brazell has the potential to be a starting first baseman in the Major Leagues. The question is will the Mets be the team to give him that opportunity.

2) Brett Harper - The son of Major League catcher Brian Harper, Brett is a very good hitter. He hits for power and is a very patient hitter. He hits the ball to all fields and only needs to continue his hitting prowess and work on his defense at first base to become a very good prospect at first base. Brett went to the Arizona Fall League this fall to face better pitcher and work on his defense. He's out to prove that his season in St. Lucie (.350-9-55) was not a fluke.

3) Jay Caligiuri - Caligiuri is more of a project at first base after coming up through the low minors as a third baseman. He can hit for power as his 18 home runs in less than 400 at-bats in the Florida State League (a notorious pitchers' league) this past season indicate. He's a very patient hitter, willing to take a walk. He's going to have to demonstrate more consistent contact at the plate and better defensive skills before garnering more attention as a first base prospect.

4) Ian Bladergroen - The "Blade" was Mr. Everything for the Bombers before a wrist injury prematurely ended his hot hitting for the Bombers this past season. Despite playing in just 72 games for Cap City this season, he still wound up third on the team in RBI with 72. He can hit for power and average. He uses all fields and is the best defensive first baseman for the Mets among the 1B prospects playing in the long-season leagues.

5) Andrew Wilson - Wilson can flat out hit. He has very good gap power and increasing home run power as he matures. The problem is where is he going to play? Wilson was the Bombers' first baseman after Bladegroen was lost for the season with a wrist injury but also played 2B, 3B, OF, and even played one game at catcher. He was tested as a catcher in the Instructional Leagues this past September. He has the look of a really good utility player down the road that can fill in at first base if need be.

6) Tyler Davidson - Davidson is a monster physically, standing 6'4" and a very athletic 240 lbs. He routinely puts on a show at batting practice, crushing balls all over the outfield fence. The problem has been transferring that same success in BP during actual games. He's a very good hitter with awesome power and is an adequate defensive player at first base. At 24 years old, Davidson needs to show he can duplicate his lower level success at the higher levels before he can make that leap into next level of prospects.

7) Jim Burt - The son of former New York Giants nose tackle Jim Burt, Burt is a very strong guy. Not very tall (5'11"), Burt is a workout maniac in the gym. He split time at 1B with Davidson at Brooklyn this season after being selected in the 19th round in the 2004 draft. He's a good defensive first baseman that can hit for power and has excellent speed for a guy his size.

8) Jabe Bergeron - An undrafted rookie free-agent signing, Bergeron is an adequate defensive first baseman with fair range. Like Davidson, Bergeron is a really big kid with very good power. He uses the whole field when he hits and has power to all fields. He demonstrated that power by hitting five home runs in a cup of coffee with the Bombers late in the season.

9) Felix Cerda - Cerda is a good defensive first baseman that looked lost at the plate in Kingsport this past season in his professional debut. Not built like a traditional first baseman (6'0", 170 lbs), Cerda does not possess nearly the same power that the other Mets' 1B prospects have.

10) Mike Carp - Carp was drafted in the 9th round of the 2004 draft out of high school and is already drawing comparisons at a young age to David Wright for his approach to the game and at the plate. He's a powerful left-handed batter that uses all fields and has very good patience at the plate, especially for such a young hitter. He has very good power projection as he fills out.

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