A couple of weeks ago when minor league rosters were being released, one of the more pleasant surprises I saw was RHP Bryan Brickhouse being placed on the Wilmington Blue Rocks active roster. A forgotten prospect due to the fact he hadn’t seen game action since 2015 when he threw nine innings with Idaho Falls, six innings in the AZL, and one inning in the Arizona Fall League. Brickhouse, who has never been the poster child for a healthy pitcher, was sidelined for two years and nearly forgotten about as a prospect.
But now he’s back! His days of starting are likely over, as it looks like the Royals are going to push and conserve his innings to the back-end of the bullpen, as they’ve done to begin 2018. It’s early, but the early results look good for him, tossing five hitless and scoreless innings thus far, striking out eight.
Years ago when Brickhouse was working as a starter, I (and the consensus) thought he was probably destined to be a bullpen arm with his smaller frame (6’0″ 195 lbs) and vigorous delivery.
Brickhouse worked mid-to-upper-90s with his fastball as a starter. I was a big fan of the fastball and its hard horizontal movement that induce a plethora of groundballs. As a starter, Brickhouse worked with an inconsistent curveball that at times flashed greatness, along with an unimpressive changeup that lacked movement, and a slider. A lack of a stable third pitch is why I kept pinning him for the bullpen, but I always wanted to keep an eye on that fastball/curveball combo that made him one of the better pitching prospects in the organization.
Years later, Brickhouse is strictly a bullpen arm. He’s ditched some of his secondaries and is now currently working with a fastball that is usually running up in the high-90s, supposedly even touching 100 MPH, and a high-80s slider.
There isn’t a lot to go off of yet, but there seems to be a lot of changes with Brickhouse. He still has that brief pause with his front foot, but the leg raise that came with is noticeably shorter. Just in general, the whole process looks a lot more clean and compact. The maximum-effort is also still there, but there’s more velocity this time around with the move to the bullpen. I’m also still seeing the awesome downhill action from the ball coming out of his hand.
Early in the minor league season, Bryan Brickhouse has been one of the more exciting stories to develop on the Royals farm. After multiple elbow surgeries and a long delay for him appearing in-game action, he sort of become a forgone conclusion. Little did we know, Brickhouse was working hard behind the scenes, training at a facility in Houston, shown further in this video.
Brickhouse’s return is something that I’m going to be keeping a close eye throughout the duration of the season. At already 25-years-old, I’d expect a quick promotion from Wilmington. And as long as he keeps performing, I’d expect him to climb the organizational ladder as a reliever quickly.
Photo Credits: MiLB.com