Marlins’ Skip Schumaker on Vidal Brujan: ‘I would anticipate him being part of our club’

It didn’t take Vidal Brujan long to feel at ease in the Miami Marlins’ clubhouse this spring training.

“Coming in here, all the guys have made me feel welcomed,” Brujan said. “I feel like I’m part of this.”

If things keep trending the way they are, it looks like Brujan will be part of the Marlins’ plans this season.

A lot can happen between now and March 28 when the Marlins open the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but manager Skip Schumaker on Saturday said “there’s a high likelihood” that Brujan, a switch-hitting utility player acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on Nov. 17, will make the Marlins’ 26-man roster to begin the season.

“He’s got a really good chance to make the team,” Schumaker said. “He’s versatile. ... He can do a lot of things for us. I haven’t told him that he’s made the team or anything like that, but I would anticipate him being part of our club.”

Brujan, at one point ranked as high as the No. 45 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, made his MLB debut on July 7, 2021, and has 99 games of big-league experience over three seasons, all with the Rays.

The results haven’t been there at the MLB level — Brujan has hit just .157 with a .439 on-base-plus-slugging mark over 272 plate appearances — but he has a career .273 average and .807 OPS in 225 games at the Triple A level.

“He’s obviously done enough in Triple A,” Schumaker said. “He’s dominated the minor leagues. Hopefully he gets more at-bats this year.”

Miami Marlins infielder Vidal Brujan and teammates arrive for spring training at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.
Miami Marlins infielder Vidal Brujan and teammates arrive for spring training at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

The Marlins needed to make a decision on Brujan sooner than later. He is out of minor-league options, so he has to make the Opening Day roster or begin the season on the injured list to stay on the 40-man roster.

Schumaker and the Marlins value Brujan’s versatility on defense enough to keep him as one of their options off the bench. Brujan has played at both shortstop and second base so far during spring training and was scheduled to start in right field on Sunday in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals before that game (along with Miami’s other scheduled game against the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach) was canceled due to inclement weather.

“He’s an athlete,” Schumaker said, adding “I’m trying to figure out how to best utilize him to get at-bats and see what the defense looks like.”

Brujan’s ability to play both infield and outfield would give Schumaker another player similar to how he used Garrett Hampson last season. Jon Berti, who was slated to be Miami’s primary shortstop at the start of spring training before the Marlins signed Tim Anderson to a one-year deal, also provides Schumaker the luxury of a super-utility player.

“Those type of guys that can play all over the place were very, very valuable to us to get guys off their feet and help us win games,” Schumaker said.

Brujan has primarily played in the middle infield and said second base is his position of choice, but when asked what position he is most comfortable at, he said “all of them equally.”

To Brujan, versatility is “really just about the effort on defense.”

“Just giving that effort and focusing on every position and trying to play the best,” Brujan said.

As for what Brujan learned the most about what it takes to play at the MLB level, he said the focus is “more about mentality than the physical part of it.”

“That’s something that when you’re up here, they really stress a lot,” Brujan said. “The physical stuff is gonna be there with the grind, but the mental part is something I’m really focusing on.”

That will be key as he adjusts from being an everyday player to most likely being a spot starter, defensive replacement and pinch runner.

“That’s part of the big league,” Schumaker said. “Unless you’re a dude, you have to earn your your big-league at-bats. There are a lot of guys that became bench players first and then earned the starter role. I was one of them. You you earn those things. They are not given.”

With the Marlins’ spring games on Sunday being canceled, left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (originally scheduled to start on Sunday in Jupiter) will start on Monday night against the New York Yankees at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Right-handed pitcher Edward Cabrera, who was originally scheduled to start Monday, will follow Puk. Both are scheduled for three innings.