Brugman turning heads at A's camp

Brugman turning heads at A's camp

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A's outfielder Jaycob Brugman arrived in his first big league camp as advertised.

"Exactly what guys in development have told me, that he's a gamer, sticks his nose in there, has tough at-bats, gets big hits, understands how to play center field," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He had a really good year last year and deserves to be here and deserves to get a hard look."

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Brugman is a potential underdog story in the making, a 17th-round Draft pick who is suddenly knocking on the door of a big league gig after the A's protected him from the Rule 5 Draft this winter by adding him to the 40-man roster.

"I believe that the A's saw me as a player they wanted to hold onto, so I hoped it would happen," said Brugman, who tripled and scored in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Mariners.

Brugman, 25, has steadily climbed the Minor League ladder since his 2013 selection out of Brigham Young University, most recently making the jump from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Nashville in 2016. After four professional seasons, his slash line sits at .274/.343/.777. He is rated by MLBPipeline.com as the A's No. 25 prospect.

Like Brugman, A's infielder Ryon Healy began the 2016 season at Double-A a second time, and Healy's rapid rise to the Majors -- he was promoted after the All-Star break -- has served as an inspiration of sorts for fellow youngsters like Brugman, who said, "We both kind of had a chip on our shoulders. Repeating a level is tough. It kind of gets you down if you let it, so to have that kind of a running competition, it's a healthy thing to have to kind of push each other."

Brugman was no slacker in Nashville, hitting .295 with seven home runs in 94 games as he gradually earned more attention across the organization. He can play all three outfield positions, and an especially good center field, where depth is depleted.

Top Prospects: Brugman, OAK

The A's currently have Jake Smolinski in tow to back up regular Rajai Davis, and non-roster outfielder Alejandro De Aza continues to make his case for a job. Then there's Brugman, who could seemingly push his way onto the roster by midseason.

"For anybody in our camp to have some versatility, it works to their benefit, but the fact that he plays center field and plays it well helps," Melvin said. "We don't have too many guys that play center field naturally."

"I'm just trying to be the same player and show them why I got to this point," Brugman said. "With the way the A's do things, you have to be ready at any point to do any job. That's the way they like it, so being versatile at all those positions gives me an advantage and the team an advantage."

Worth noting

• The A's reassigned seven players to Minor League camp Sunday: left-hander A.J. Puk, their 2016 first-round Draft pick, and right-handers Michael Brady, Trey Cochran-Gill, Heath Fillmyer, Tucker Healy, Aaron Kurcz and Josh Smith. A total of 63 players remain in big league camp.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.