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Rays' Brujan displays wily trickery

No. 41 overall prospect steals an out in Dominican Winter League
Vidal Brujan stole 48 bases in 99 games between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery in 2019. (Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Tarpons)
November 24, 2020

Vidal Brujan seems to have an excellent handle on the elusive sixth tool. The third-ranked Rays prospect made a subtle fib and stole an out in the eighth inning of his winter league debut as Toros Del Este edged Leones Del Escogido, 3-2, in the first game of a doubleheader

Vidal Brujan seems to have an excellent handle on the elusive sixth tool.

The third-ranked Rays prospect made a subtle fib and stole an out in the eighth inning of his winter league debut as Toros Del Este edged Leones Del Escogido, 3-2, in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday in Santo Domingo.

With one out in the lone extra inning, Mariners prospect Luis Liberato tapped a comebacker to Toros pitcher Tim Peterson that resulted in a fielder's choice and produced the go-ahead run. Liberato took off for second in the next at-bat and seemed to have the bag stolen when catcher Jhon Nunez dropped the ball on the transfer.

The Toros' 22-year-old second baseman got over to cover the bag but did not have a throw to receive nor a tag to apply. Liberato slid in safely, popped up, began to adjust his sock and appeared to ask Brujan if the pitch had been fouled off.

Brujan can be seen nodding his head, apparently advising Liberato to return to first after the foul ball that never was. Peterson greeted Liberato in the baseline, flipped to Brujan and, after a quick rundown, the second baseman applied the tag to record the second out of the inning.

Escogido manager Dave Jauss quickly called for the play to be reviewed, but the call was upheld.

After making the final out of the seventh, Brujan was placed on second to start the home half of the extra frame and scored on Peter O'Brien's walk-off blast to left field. Brujan was hitless in his first three at-bats of the winter.

The native of San Pedro de Macoris singled twice and scored a run as the Toros took a 2-0 victory in the nightcap.

MLB Pipeline's No. 41 overall prospect batted .346/.389/.735 with 28 extra-base hits, 40 RBIs and 48 stolen bases in 99 games between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery in 2019. Brujan was assigned to the Rays' alternate training site this summer and was added to the postseason player pool during the club's World Series run.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound switch-hitter is one of eight middle infielders among the Rays' top 30 prospects, a list that includes No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco, who is on the Escogido roster but sat out Tuesday's doubleheader with right biceps discomfort, and 67th-ranked Xavier Edwards.

Liberato, a 24-year-old outfielder who played one game for Triple-A Tacoma in 2019, launched his first homer of the winter off Yankees right-hander Domingo Germán in the first inning of Tuesday's opener.

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, _@_Gerard_Gilberto.