When his teammates left Spring Training and embarked on the 2017 season, Jaycob Brugman wasn't with them. Now that he's rejoined them, he's glad to be back with impressive results.
The A's No. 22 prospect hit his first homer of the year and drove in four runs on a four-hit night Tuesday as Triple-A Nashville's offense rolled up 16 hits in an 11-6 win at Fresno.
"It's night and day. It's really hard to explain the feeling, but it's tough being in Arizona," said Brugman, who spent the season's first month on the disabled list with a left calf injury. "The staff is good down there. They helped me stay in shape and ready so when I was able to come out here, I would be ready to go. It's just a grind, but it feels good to be back with the team and winning some games."
Video: The Sounds' Jaycob Brugman homers during a big night
Since returning to the Sounds on May 3, Brugman is batting .395/.469/.512 while playing all three outfield positions. Tuesday marked his fifth game in the leadoff spot, and he shined again in that role. After striking out in the first inning, he laced a single to right field in the second that plated Chris Parmelee for his first RBI of the year.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stressing about that, I'll be honest," Brugman said with a laugh. "I'm never worried about RBIs in the season, but I just feel like I hadn't had that many opportunities. When I came up with two outs and got that RBI, the first one out of the way, I was like, 'Phew, OK, here we go.'"
The 25-year-old outfielder matched the feat with an RBI single to right as part of a seven-run fourth. In the fifth, he pulled a two-run homer to right to extend the Sounds' lead to 11-4.
Gameday box score
"I was really just trying to battle," he said. "I was just trying to add on. I was just trying to have a good at-bat. I saw a couple of [Fresno reliever Tyson Perez's] pitches well, and he doubled up on one of them."
Brugman produced his third single of the night to center in the seventh. The four-hit performance was his first since back-to-back four-hit games last July 15-16 at El Paso. It boosted Brugman's slash line to .455/.500/.636 in 22 at-bats as a leadoff hitter this year.
"I love hitting leadoff and I just feel whenever I get the time to hit leadoff that it puts a little added pressure to start the game off right and bring up the meat of the order every round we go throughout the game," he said. "It's fun. I like to be the guy to get the order going. If we're not feeling too hot during the game, I could come up in the fifth inning and start it off. It's a fun thing to do."
Every member of the Nashville lineup had at least one hit and the Sounds were 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"It's incredible the lineup we have and we've been together for a couple years now," Brugman said. "All of us can hit and we all know each other, so it's almost like an added advantage. It's just a great feeling when you get on base.
"I'm always ready to score from first because [top A's prospect Franklin] Barreto will hit a double somewhere. If I don't score from Barreto, then 'Oly' (A's No. 16 prospect Matt Olson) will hit a home run or something. It's just nonstop. We just have great confidence, great chemistry."
Video: Matt Olson hits his fourth homer in four games
A's No. 4 prospect Matt Chapman belted a solo homer to left-center in the second and Olson clubbed a three-run shot -- with Brugman aboard -- in the fourth. That long ball was Olson's fourth in four games.
"When he's going well, he doesn't miss the mistakes and lays off the bad pitches," Brugman said of Olson. "They pitch him tough and rightfully so. When he's laying off of tough, borderline pitches, you just know he's seeing the ball well. When he's seeing the ball well, if you leave anything over the plate, he's going to hit it hard somewhere. He should have more than five home runs this past week because he's really crushing balls but has gotten unlucky with some wind and bad weather conditions."
Brugman's night was his third multi-hit performance in four games and the fifth of his abbreviated season. The BYU product credited his 94 games at the Triple-A level last year with helping him make up ground quickly coming off the injury.
"It's a huge thing," he said. "You have experience at a level for that long, you get an idea of what to expect and how to go about your business. You see a lot of the same guys, a lot of the same pitchers, and you kind of have that little confidence to start with, knowing that you've done well in that league and done well against these certain pitchers. It's all confidence and knowing that you can do it."
Astros No. 7 prospect Teoscar Hernandez doubled and singled, while No. 24 prospect Colin Moran hit a solo homer for the Grizzlies.