Brett Cumberland

Position: C
Level: Rk
Affiliate: Danville Braves
League: Florida State League
Age: 21 yrs, 2m
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 205
B/T: Both / Right
Acquired: 2nd Rd. (CB Rd. B), 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft (ATL); Traded to BAL 7/31/2018

Prospect Spotlight

When the Braves drafted Cumberland this past June with their Competitive Balance Round B pick, they likely saw a strong-bodied kid with some raw power who had enough to work with defensively to become an offensive minded back-stop at the major league level.  The Cal product has a relatively boxy frame with slightly rolled shoulders and a thick low half.  He sits in an easy medium crouch at the plate with a pretty pronounced uphill plane to his swing.  The actions are easy and he does indeed have some pop, but it plays more as loft power, getting carry on his fly balls rather than back-spinning line drives.

As a draft eligible sophomore at Cal, Cumberland hit .344 with 16 bombs and almost a 1:1 SO:BB ratio, so he has a track record of plate discipline for his age at a fairly high collegiate level.  Through his first 189 PAs in pro ball (all coming at Rookie-level Danville) the power has carried over, but he has struggled to maintain the same level of command of the strike zone that he displayed at Cal, striking out in just over 25% of his plate appearances.  This is not uncommon for first year pro hitters, though it is also not encouraging to see a collegian with a track record scuffle during even a brief taste of Rookie ball. The best case scenario is Cumberland is simply a bit fatigued after a long season that started in earnest for him this February.

Cumberland is a strong kid with pretty smooth actions across the board.  He still has some room to fill out and get stronger, and while there are some mechanical issues with the stroke, he seems athletic enough to have a chance to make adjustments.  That said, he does have significant uphill plane to the swing and does not have tremendous bat speed from either side of the plate.  He does a good job with the ball down and can hammer a mistake in the middle of the plate, however he tends to hook anything out away from him, which creates a lot of rollover outs to the right side or easy fly balls to left field.  

The profile suggests Cumberland could eventually fall into the three-true-outcomes category (home runs, walks and strikeouts).  While he has not put up great walk rates thus far in his brief pro debut, Cumberland does give you a professional at-bat and will see a solid amount of pitches.  He’s not overly passive and will attack the balls that are in his wheelhouse, but he has the makings of a grooved swing and could end up having some trouble as he starts to face guys with better command.

Defensively, he leaves a bit to be desired at present, and he has a number of areas to smooth out over the course of his development. He sets a high target and is slow to shift his weight on anything to either side, and while he has some accuracy with his throws, the arm strength is below average and he is a bit slow to get rid of the ball (popping 2.20 and 2.16 in my looks).  I don’t think it is a stretch to see the footwork get better with work and the receiving should stand to improve a bit as well with the pro instruction.  

Given the over-slot bonus the Braves dropped on Cumberland with the 76th-overall pick, it would appear they are confident as to their ability to groom him behind the plate while teasing out as much as possible on the offensive side. Time will tell whether there is enough here to justify the investment.  Right now, it looks like he will continue to run into a few and could chip in with some on-base production as he advances, but a lot of that value likely goes away if he can’t give the club those at bats from the catcher spot.  Have a look at my full report here.