17 September 2016

1988 Best Orlando Twins #28 Bernardo Brito

    Following a 1987 design that resembled 1986 Donruss, Best Cards patterned the fronts of their 1988 team sets after the 1986 Topps set.  I think I actually like Best's approach a little better, though the "Orlando '88" is perhaps a bit reduntant, due to the inclusion of the team logo.  Best Cards' back designs didn't change much for the entire 1987-1990 length of their existence, and were always a bit spartan.

     After seven seasons in the Indians organization, 1988 found Bernardo Brito still murdering the ball, but also still stuck at the AA level.  In early March, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a good feature on Brito that helped explain his seeming lack of progress.  Bernardo was from the hills of San Cristobal, not the bigger cities of Santo Domingo or San Pedro de Macoris, and didn't grow up in quite the same baseball saturated environment as most young Dominican prospects.

     "He's still got a long way to go," [Luis] Isaac said. "He never had any coaching when he was a kid.  He never heard of a cutoff man or a bunt play until he got here.  Usually it takes Latin players about three or four years longer to reach their maximum."

     Isaac was the scout who heard about Brito and drove into the mountains of the Dominican Republic to find and, ultimately, sign him.  The article goes on to say that Brito  would most likely only succeed as a designated hitter, but then explained how most such players were usually experienced veterans, and that it would be difficult for a rookie to break into the majors in the DH role.  To me that was, perhaps, a perfect description of Major League baseball's perpetual resistance to the entire concept of the DH.  Basically until Edgar Martinez came along, it was somehow foreign to just put a good hitter with limited fielding ability in the DH role and take full advantage of that.  Most designated hitters were either aging veterans who no longer had the mobility to play in the field, or utility-type guys who were perhaps too good to leave in the minors, but little more than average bats in the Majors.

    Despite the praise and high hopes by March 25th the Indians decided he was a no longer a prospect and released Bernardo Brito.  Five days later, Brito was signed by the Minnesota Twins and sent to Orlando, their AA affiliate in the Southern League.  By June 15th, Brito was leading the Southern League in home runs for the Twins with 15.  By July 5th, Brito had been named to the Southern League All-Star team and was leading the league with 19 HR and 57 RBI.  Not bad for a non-prospect!

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