We talk a lot about physical tools vs. baseball skills here at Minor League Ball. The best players have both, of course. The epitome of success for baseball player development is taking a raw tools guy and teaching him the skills to make those tools work.
It seldom happens in textbook fashion and most raw players never really pan out. But one who might is Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Socrates Brito, hitting .360/.385/.500 this spring.
First, the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book report:
Socrates Brito, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-2 WT: 200 DOB: September 6, 1992
Socrates Brito has always stood out for his physical tools: above-average speed, good throwing arm, power potential. He has steadily developed the skills to make those tools work in the field, with 2015 being a major step forward. He gets to his power more often now while simultaneously reducing his strikeout rate, a great marker. More walks would be nice but are not mandatory if he continues to hit for average and power and use his speed well on the bases. Brito has developed into a real asset defensively, above-average in center field and excellent in a corner due to plus range and arm strength. He could use some Triple-A to finish locking down the strike zone but given the last two years I think there are good reasons for optimism. In the past I have seen Brito as a fourth outfielder but if he continues developing he could be a fine multi-category regular. Grade B-.
I'm not the only analyst liking Brito these days. Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs wrote about Brito yesterday, calling him the "newest under-rated Diamondback." Sullivan's take is very similar to mine: Brito has a broad base of abilities and has made a lot of progress, but while uncertainties about his bat make it unclear if he'll be a long-term regular or just a useful part, you have to like the trendlines.
And you must admit, Socrates Brito hit a home run with the all-important Cool Name Tool.