To say that Ryan Brett has gone through a lot in the past year would be a major understatement.
"It was rough," said the No. 20 Tampa Bay Rays prospect.
Brett, however, was able to endure the trials and come away feeling better physically and emotionally.
"I've grown up a lot," the Charlotte second baseman said.
Brett was suspended 50 games for a failed drug test last August, and then things got worse. In November, the 21-year-old had to have a kidney removed. That was followed by hernia surgery in January. So it would have been logical to think that Brett might start slowly once his suspension was completed in mid May. But that wasn't the case.
The speedy right-handed batter has been a hit machine in his first taste of the Class A Advanced Florida State League. Brett had a four-hit game Saturday and banged out three more Sunday. He was batting .347 through 43 games and had stolen 19 bases in 24 attempts.
He was able to put up those numbers while overcoming a little more misfortune. He hurt his shoulder on a head-first slide into third base in early June and missed two weeks.
"I've just tried to stay positive, and everything has worked out," said the Rays' third-round pick in the 2010 Draft.
Brett admits he got off course last season and paid for it.
"I didn't have the greatest attitude," said the Seattle native.
In a slump, Brett says he took something without checking it out. His timing wasn't good. He flunked a drug test and drew the suspension. Two Bowling Green teammates also got 50-game bans.
"It was a wakeup call," Brett said.
So was the health scare.
Brett was born with a urinary tract issue and had periodic soreness and swelling growing up. But it wasn't until the pain became worse last fall that it was determined he had a kidney blockage. The kidney needed to be removed, and then a complication after the operation led to the hernia surgery.
"Now I feel better than ever," Brett said. "No more pain. It's a relief."
The 5-foot-9 leadoff hitter came into this season with a .292 career average and has improved on it.
Brett, who hit .431 in June, had struck out just 21 times in 173 at-bats and had an on-base percentage of .399 to go with a slugging mark of .486 that featured seven doubles, four triples and three homers.
Also of note is his prowess on the base paths. He's been successful on 76 percent of his steal attempts this season after swiping 48 bases in 56 attempts last year over 100 games in the Class A Midwest League.
Then there's Brett's consistency. He's hit safely in 17 of his past 18 games while batting .333 in July, failing to get a hit in just nine of his 43 games this season.
After a 2012 to forget, Brett is having a 2013 to remember.
"Everything is going very well," he said. "Now, I just need to build off it."
Moving up: Left-hander Justin Nicolino was promoted by Miami from Jupiter to Double-A Jacksonville after going 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA in his final 10 starts for the Hammerheads. The Marlins' No. 3 prospect was 5-2 overall in 18 starts and led the Florida State League with a 2.23 ERA. Nicolino, 21, came to the Marlins as one of the prospects in the trade that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, also part of the deal, was promoted to Jacksonville at the start of the second half after going 4-2 with a 1.67 ERA in 12 starts for Jupiter.
Red hot: Fort Myers shortstop Aderlin Mejia hit .378 over a 10-game stretch to raise his average to .338 through 61 games. He missed April but has been a hit machine since. The 21-year-old switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic batted .378 in May. He had 22 walks to 20 strikeouts and an on-base percentage of .390. Mejia had just 10 extra-base hits but stole 14 bases. He hit .324 last year in the rookie Gulf Coast League.
No payoff: Brevard County left Brent Suter didn't allowed an earned run over six innings in consecutive starts but had nothing to show for it. The no-decisions left him with a 7-5 record to go with a 2.60 ERA that ranked third in the Florida State League. Suter, 23, got a decision in his first 12 outings before not factoring in the past two. He was a 31st-round pick by Milwaukee in the 2012 Draft out of Princeton University.