Utahns in baseball: BYU alums Taylor Cole, Jaycob Brugman leading their minor league teams as playoffs loom
Jeff Roberson, AP
The postseason is just around the corner in minor league baseball, and BYU alums Taylor Cole and Jaycob Brugman each had big weeks in helping their respective clubs make playoff runs.
After two starts in Double-A New Hampshire, Cole returned to Dunedin and did what he has done all season long: strike out batters.
The former BYU pitcher struck out nine in five innings, upping his strikeout total to 152 on the year for the Toronto Blue Jays’ advanced Single-A affiliate.
“I felt OK. I’ve been traveling a lot and pretty busy with coming up and back from New Hampshire,” Cole said in a radio interview posted on MiLB.com. “My body was a little bit tired even though I didn’t have my best stuff, we were able to execute some pitches and get a good quality outing.”
Cole struggled in his first start in Double-A but pitched considerably better in his other outing despite a loss. He said those issues were mainly from mental errors, like walking batters and getting behind in counts. That’s something he wasn’t doing to get him the promotion.
Cole’s demotion, however, was made primarily to have him in Dunedin as the Blue Jays go for the Florida State League championship beginning on Sept. 2. The D-Jays clinched a playoff spot in the FSL by having the best record after the first half of the season.
Cole added in his interview he’s excited to be back in Dunedin for the playoffs.
“I knew (the demotion) was going to happen because I wanted to be here for this,” Cole said. “Obviously we all want to progress in the system, but I definitely want to be here at this time of the year to help us win the championship and see how far we can go. I think we have a great team, great coaching staff, and it’ll be fun."
Brugman, on the other hand, continued his power surge with advanced Single-A Stockton over the week, helping the Ports further the gap in a playoff race. The former Cougar hit five home runs in four games at the end of last week. He hit another on Tuesday to extend his streak to five-straight games with a home run.
The BYU alum then hit another on Thursday and two more on Saturday. In fact, Brugman went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and four runs scored in Stockton’s 14-10 win over San Jose on Saturday. Overall, he homered nine times in a nine-game span from Aug. 6 until Saturday.
"What I really focus on is a routine, keeping the same routine each day when I come to the field,” Brugman told MiLB.com’s Tyler Maun. “I'm just looking for my pitch and not missing it. That's been the key lately. Sometimes you get on a hot streak and you don't miss those pitches that you should hit."
The Ports currently hold a five-game lead over San Jose for the second playoff spot in the California League north division.
“There’s nothing else on our minds but to win,” Brugman said about the team's playoff mentality, in an interview with the Ports after Saturday’s slugfest. “The team knows that and we believe it and I think that’s what propels us to be the best — knowing that we’re going to win.”
Elsewhere, Salt Lake City resident and 2014 Olympic speedskater Eddy Alvarez received his first promotion of his minor league career. Alvarez, who was batting .291 in 27 games in the Arizona League, joined Single-A Kannapolis (North Carolina) on Monday.
He has since gone 9-for-19 with his new club, driving in three runs and scoring three more.
Utah alum Tyler Wagner also picked up his 12th win of the season in advanced Single-A Brevard County. Wagner allowed just five hits in six innings. He lowered his ERA back down to 1.68 on the year.
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