Washington righty Jeff Brigham has a unique baseball history without a lot of national recognition as the draft nears. After two solid seasons at Washington, Brigham was diagnosed with a tear in his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss his entire junior season. But Brigham didn't just deal with UCL issues his junior year; he actually pitched through the pain of the tear his sophomore year, as doctors couldn't properly diagnose the extent of the injury. That doesn't sound fun. It's pretty incredible that Brigham started 15 games a year after TJ surgery, and even more impressive on how well he pitched. His 2.93 ERA in 83 innings helped the Huskies reach into the top 10. Add in the fact that his arm seemingly transformed from low 90s to hitting 95 mph with the fastball, and we might have an older Henry Rowengartner up in Seattle. Before we head to the summary, I thought I would share a sick play that Brigham made against UCLA a few weeks ago.
Brigham sits in the mid 90s with his fastball, although he had a nice uptick in velocity this past spring and was reportedly hitting 97-98, but that didn't look to be totally accurate (or it was just a one-time deal). Instead, Brigham was hitting 95 mph with the fastball, something that people will still take notice of. Brigham combines his improving four-seamer with a two-seam fastball that works around 91-92 mph with decent life. Brigham also uses a slider and a changeup, with the slider having a more promise. The guys over at Perfect Game believe that the slider has plus potential in the future, and though it is inconsistent it can be a useful weapon as a complement to his fastball if it improves.
Brigham's command and control is pretty good as well. The PG guys had good things to say about it, and he's walked 20 hitters in 83 innings this season. He uses a powerful delivery toward the plate and starts with his feet spread pretty wide apart as he pushes off the mound when he's throwing out of the stretch.
Though Brigham has bounced back nicely from his surgery this spring, the fact that he's already had TJ will probably be a red flag for many teams. It could cause him to drop a little further than he deserves to be picked, and he has another year of eligibility left at UW if he falls really far.
Minor league starting depth if the breaking pitches don't improve. If his fastball is a legit 95 however, he could develop into a decent middle relief arm.
There's a lot of things that need to go right for Brigham to reach his ceiling, or even that majors in general. Brigham has to show more consistency with his breaking stuff and keep his fastball in the low to mid 90s, all while keeping a possible flare up with his UCL out of the picture. However, I could see Brigham flourishing at the back of an MLB rotation if all goes right.
Projected Draft Round
Although Brigham's increase in velocity had some scouts and prospect guys in Seattle for ballgames, Brigham isn't anywhere to be found in a noteworthy ranking on many of the big publications. That being said, a "source" with a connection to Brigham (call it a collegiate connection) thinks that he could be drafted by the third round. That's probably the highest he'll go, considering the college pitching depth out there without injury history. However, Brigham would make for a nice fifth or sixth round pick for the Astros if he's still available. He has some risk, but it isn't without potential.
Will he Sign?
If Brigham's injury history scares teams off and he drops, he could choose to return for Washington and prove that he's injury-free with another year of eligibility.
Before the Video
Here's a nice feature on Brigham from Washington's director of writing Gregg Bell that details Brigham's injury diagnosis and his comeback this season. It also offers a really interesting glimpse into the process of a Tommy John surgery.