SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Socrates Brito is all too familiar with the route from Phoenix to Reno, Nevada.
As the 2016 season wound down for the Diamondbacks, the 24-year-old made the trip from Triple-A Reno to Chase Field three times over the span of three weeks.
This year, he hopes to spend all of his time in Phoenix. Brito said that if there is uncertainty about where he is headed, he just has to have a tough mindset.
“It’s a learning experience,” he said. “Going up and down, you have to have a strong mind most of the time. Sometimes when you’re down, you feel bad but you have to keep your head up and just keep working.”
After the third call-up, Brito hit a three-run homer just two days after getting to the big club. It helped power the Diamondbacks to an 8-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies, providing a snapshot of the impact his bat could have on the club.
It appeared that he would have the chance to stick around when A.J. Pollock went down with a re-injured elbow. Instead, Brito ended up with injuries of his own to deal with after suffering a fractured toe, ending any chances of finding a rhythm.
In the 40 major league games he appeared in last year, he had a slash line of just .179/.196/.358.
In the minors he fared better, posting a .294/.322/.439 with six home runs in 73 games for the Reno Aces.
Then during the offseason while he was preparing to play Winter League ball, Brito spent about three months rehabbing from a broken hamate bone in his hand that required surgery.
However, he said he now feels fine and is focusing during spring training on producing in the big leagues. The necessary tools to do it are all at Brito’s disposal.
(Video by Troy Lynch/Cronkite News)
MLB Pipeline currently has Brito rated as the team’s No. 6-ranked prospect spot, where he is credited with having above-average speed and a strong arm to play at all outfield positions.
“Last year I was struggling,” he said. “I’m just focused on my swing most of the time. Now, I feel really good. I’m ready to compete and do my best.”
He is in the mix for the fourth outfielder spot along with Jeremy Hazelbaker and Gregor Blanco.
Teammate Chris Herrmann, who had his own share of jumping around the outfield last season, knows what Brito is up against.
“It’s really competitive right now,” he said. “I know he’s busting his butt. He’s doing whatever he can to make this team. He’s an athlete, he can run, he can throw, he can hit. He has a great chance at making this ballclub.”
There’s another motivation for Brito as he tries to stick with the club: his family back in Azua, Dominican Republic.
“Everyday, I usually go out thinking, ‘hey, I left my family back home to come here and play the game,’ ” Brito said. “They are my motivator.”
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