Bulls parade way to eighth Triple-A title
LAS VEGAS -- Vidal Bruján’s season has been full of ups and downs as he’s moved between the Majors and Triple-A seven times. But one constant has been his bat when he suits up for the Bulls. The Rays infielder raked once again, going 4-for-5 with a walk, two RBIs
LAS VEGAS -- Vidal Bruján’s season has been full of ups and downs as he’s moved between the Majors and Triple-A seven times. But one constant has been his bat when he suits up for the Bulls.
The Rays infielder raked once again, going 4-for-5 with a walk, two RBIs and three runs scored to lead Triple-A Durham to a 13-0 blanking of Nashville in the International League championship game on Saturday at Las Vegas Ballpark.
“He's been our spark all season,” manager Brady Williams said. “When he goes, we go. And he had a really awesome night -- defensively, offensively.”
Bruján came into the game wanting one more contest for his club -- and that's exactly what he provided. The switch-hitter lined a base hit to right-center field on the first pitch of the game. Bruján's aggressive strategy continued as he raced to swipe second. And although he was bested by a rocket throw from Nashville's Brian Navarreto, the speedster's attempt set the tone.
“I came to play,” Bruján said. “I play hard.”
Coming up with four big knocks, Vidal Bruján is the IL Championship Game MVP!@ANG_Recruiting | #ServeYourWay pic.twitter.com/nWihTN8S4n— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) October 2, 2022
Two innings later, Bruján perfectly placed a chopper just past the mound that second baseman Pablo Reyes could only hold onto. After working a six-pitch walk in the fourth, the 24-year-old took advantage of his first RBI opportunity, knocking a single to right in the fifth to make it 9-0. And as part of a four-run seventh by Durham, Bruján ripped another RBI single.
In 63 regular-season games with the Bulls, the leadoff hitter slashed .292/.369/.440 with six homers and 21 RBIs. Bruján swiped 26 bases in 39 attempts. With Tampa Bay, the Dominican Republic native has logged a .479 OPS in 49 games as he plugged holes across the infield and outfield.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Bruján said through a club interpreter. “Basically, it's like, I don't want to overanalyze it. If I play well, if I work hard, the opportunities are going to be there. Be ready when they call me up. And when I'm here, I'm going to do my job.”
Bulls first baseman Luke Raley tallied two knocks and three RBIs, while left fielder Bligh Madris added a pair of doubles and four RBIs in front of his hometown crowd.
Durham's pitching was just as locked in as the hitting, holding Nashville to eight hits, only five of which left the infield. On late notice, right-hander Cooper Criswell was called on to start, going three innings with three strikeouts. Calvin Faucher followed with five punchouts in two perfect frames, then Angel Perdomo and Jimmy Yacabonis closed it out with two frames apiece for the Bulls.
The Triple-A National Championship is now set as Durham will face PCL winner Reno at 7:05 p.m. ET on Sunday. This will be the third time in the past four iterations of the Minors' final championship that the Bulls are competing. The contest will be free on MiLB.TV and MLB.TV, as well as televised on MLB Network.
But no matter if it's his final game or he has more postseason ball in his future with Tampa Bay, Bruján will do his job.
"I'm always ready," Bruján said. "We have a game here, I'm ready for it. [And] I'll be ready if they call me up there."
Kelsie Heneghan is a writer for MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.