How Being One of the Most Athletic Pitchers in the System Helps Steven Brault

INDIANAPOLIS – After two decent starts to begin his Triple-A career, Steven Brault posted a nice line on Friday night in Louisville for Indianapolis. The lefty pitched five innings with just one unearned run on two hits and four walks, while striking out nine. Brault had a strong breakout campaign last season between Bradenton and Altoona, and is now making the jump to Indianapolis, just one year removed from being the player to be named later in the Travis Snider trade.

“It is going good,” Brault said of the promotion so far. “It is a cool situation to be in [with the jump to Triple-A]. Indy is awesome and the team is awesome. We are all getting our feet wet being here. We are just starting up and getting everything going for the rest of the season.”

Brault said that his stuff feels good this season, with the sink and downward movement he is getting. Some of the early issues that he has run into involve walks. Last year, Brault saw his BB/9 at 2.3. This season, he has already walked seven hitters in 13.2 innings of work. However, this is not necessarily an alarm for Brault.

“[The pitches] feel pretty good,” Brault said. “It hasn’t been perfect and I have not had my exact command, which is kind of normal for me at the beginning of the year. For some reason, it takes me a little bit longer. So, I am just working on it and keep going through everything and just go what I can do to progressively get better throughout the year.”

Brault didn’t show the same control issues in the stat line last year, and the numbers will have to improve to see the same success that he had in 2015. On Friday night, Brault walked four hitters and ran his pitch count up at times, which has prevented him from going deep in games. He also struck out nine in the start and showed the quality stuff that vaulted his prospect status last season.

Brault arrived on the radar last season after posting a 2.43 ERA in 155.2 innings between Bradenton and Altoona, while also showing good control numbers. A key for him repeating that success with his control in the upper levels could involve tapping into his athleticism.

Prior to being drafted in the 11th round by the Orioles in 2013, Brault was a two-way player in the outfield at tiny Regis University in Colorado. In fact, Brault will still transition back to those days in batting practice, looking like an outfielder in batting practice shagging fly balls. However, this is not just an act for Brault. He is also able to hone that athleticism into something productive as well on the mound.

“[Athleticism plays] a lot into my success,” Brault said. “Part of it is that I want every ball to be hit back up the middle because I know that I can make every play. I am very confident in my fielding abilities. I am also athletic and can make adjustments throughout the game, and that is very helpful.”

Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor has seen the athleticism from Brault since day one this spring and notices that it plays a role for the lefty as well.

“I think his athleticism contributes a lot to his success,” Treanor said. “A lot of pitching is that you have to be in tune with your body and you really have to let your athleticism come out. It is only going to help in that respect and he has shown that. I didn’t get a real good look at him until this spring. I was really impressed with that factor and he showed that [here].”

Along with fielding his position, hitting is something that Brault will have the ability to do on occasion in the upper levels, and something that he has confidence in. Brault picked up a double on Friday, improving on the 7-for-16 totals from last year in Altoona.

Ultimately, Brault said that having the athleticism and making the adjustments allow him to be comfortable on the mound with his mechanics, which is where the control comes into play.

“Repeating mechanics is a big thing that the Orioles preached,” Brault said. “It is something that I have tried to keep going with.”

While it is clear that Brault still has some work to do, his athleticism and ability to adjust will play a key role in future success with the organization. The 2016 season is a huge one for Brault to show that 2015 was more than just a mirage. He’s going to need to improve his walk rate going forward, which he’s been able to do in the past. He should benefit from his athleticism in this department. That same athleticism could give him value with his fielding and at the plate. The combined package could make Brault a valuable rotation option for the Pirates in the future.

  • Has Luis Heredia reinvented himself as a serviceable RP prospect?! I see the stats, but what does the rest look like. Does he LOOK better?

    • I saw him last week against Palm Beach. He pitched 2 innings with 1 er and got the save. Yes, he looks better.

  • piraterican21
    April 25, 2016 1:56 am

    This kid needs to see an velocity up stick or development of a pitch like a good cutter to be a good 3-4. Without he is 5th on a .500 team.

    • Or, he is another Tony Watson?

      • Well Watson throws considerably harder than Brault….Personally, I don’t think Brault will amount to much in the Show….I think some on here are drastically overrating him. He stuff doesn’t appear that it will play at the MLB level.

        • Watson was lower 90s as a SP (and at times lower), so its not crazy to think that in relief Brault could sit around 93-94 like Watson averages.

          If Brault was told he was a full time reliever who they wanted to go 1 inning, he could likely sit in Watson like velo. He can be more than that, but his velo isnt all that different that what Watson saw.

          • I don’t think there’s any chance of Brault throwing as hard as Watson. Brault “sits” in the upper 80’s.

            • Go look up the scouting reports from Watson during his early years while starting.

              Heck, the player profile on here has Watson sitting upper 80s at times. They had similar velos as SPs.

              • Immaterial….Just because Watson did it doesn’t mean Brault will. i’ve seen Watson hit 97 on the gun. I would bet my 401k that Brault never sniffs 97.

                • Seems a bit odd to ignore evidence that guys can gain velo but to each their own.

                  My point is simply that is possible, and Tony Watson prove that. You can sit around 90 as a starter, and develop into mid 90s if you move to relief and work from that role for years.

                  Doesnt mean Brault will, but it means he can.

              • I agree I saw Watson and Altoona and he got blown up for 10 runs as a starter I never thought he could get so much velocity as a reliever

        • Is it possible that he is similar to a Mike Leake type who has average stuff but gets by with grit and athleticism and brings his bat to the ballpark. Because he just got 85 million so he could be a sneaky value type.

  • The only question I have is if he is better than Jeff Locke right now?
    You would have to stretch to say that he isn’t with all of his abilities added up. This is the time to make a drastic move in the rotation and to send Jeff out to the pen and bring up a prospect. Brault or Taillon? Sounds like both are ready to me.

    • Really easy for fans to assume a guy doing well in AAA means he’s better than any ML player, but the difference between AAA and MLB is steep.

      A guy like Brault could absolutely provide Locke like results, since he does deal with walk issues at times.

      Jeff Locke isnt throwing well, but that doesnt make any AAA arm ML quality.

      • Don’t disagree however Locke is giving up 7 runs a game are you sure you aren’t over rating Locke?

        • Wainwright is giving up over seven runs/game.

          The season is early. Less than a handful of starts is not a reason to push the panic button.

          Anyway, even if he’s in the shitter, it’s not as if the Pirates have anyone better than Locke to take his place.

        • Put Locke in Indy and he would dominate.

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    • putting Locke in the bullpen is just delaying the out come. I thought Locke could hold up until JT and TG get to the majors, but am getting very worried. He is pitching like it’s the second half of the season.

      • I agree Chuck he has to do it himself and he has in the past I wouldn’t put it past him to turn it on again but he better start turning it on fast

    • Taillon, but not until early June.