Last July I bumped into Jared Breen, Anthony Vega (now with Long Island Ducks, unaffiliated) and Anthony Caronia (Norfolk, AAA) at the Salisbury Cookout after a game. Breen was the teapot of the trio but who cares about proportions? CC Sabathia, The Babe, David Ortiz, Renyel Pinto – they all get/got the job done. This kid (though he’s 360 days older than I am) is good.
Breen, 5’11” (I worked in men’s college basketball for four years; all players lie about height), stocky, 24 year old Belmont product does not get the recognition that he deserves. Last year he was competing against fellow field position players Caronia, Mike Yastrzemski (if you can’t tell who’s grandson he is by the last name, are you even a true fan of baseball?), Chance Sisco, Drew Dosch (went on to break coach Ryan Minor’s hit record as a Shorebird) and Trey Mancini for the spotlight. This year he is up against Alex Murphy (7 Day DL right now), Conor Bierfeldt, Jomar Reyes and fan favorite Jay Gonzalez.
I didn’t know that I was a Breen fan until May 12 2015, when Coach Minor had Jonah Heim as DH in a double-header versus Augusta GreenJackets … I tweeted “Sorry Ryan Minor, but I disagree. I’d have Breen as DH, not Heim.” Heim is not terrible (hiiii, he is playing professionally) but needs more professional ball discipline as he is only 19. Heim in Game Two was all zeros after a .667 avg in Game One.
Breen’s stance is a “normal”, beautiful set up with feet shoulder-width apart and a small yet high step forward when swinging. I typically do not see his shoulder drop in the swing like I do teammate Steve Wilkerson. He is cautious with the pitches. The last game I saw him in was May 19; Birds hosting Lakewood BlueClaws. Second inning he got the BB with a full count of a ball, foul, ball, strike looking, ball, foul, then first-base-bound ball. Fourth inning, he swung on the first pitch and I swear I felt the wind from the swing. The next pitch was a strike but he only looked at it. For the third pitch, he swung yet missed for Strike Three. In the seventh inning, he looked at the strike, swung & missed for Strike Two, then made contact on the third pitch which was a bounce grounder to Short, then thrown out at first. As a former athlete, I can honestly say “not a good night, but it happens”.
Before tonight’s game at West Virginia Power, Breen’s stats include 35 games, 114 AB, 32 hits, .281 avg, .376 OBP, .325 SLG, 13 RBI. He has 16 BB and 31 SO. Also, I have seen this Short Stop turn a lot of double-plays; my favorite.
I would love to see him move up if positions become available, but this may be his last season. He is 24 years old, stocky, more-or-less average numbers (it’s only May), with young foreign kids coming in. I’ve seen this happen with former White Sox MiLB player Zach Voight, versus still signed Cleuluis Rondon.