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From undrafted to the big leagues: Mike Brosseau’s strong season earns major league callup from Rays

Brosseau was in the top five in several offensive categories before bring promoted prior to Saturday’s game in Oakland.
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Michael Brosseau fields the ball during a workout at their spring training baseball facility in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Michael Brosseau fields the ball during a workout at their spring training baseball facility in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Published Jun. 22, 2019
Updated Jun. 23, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. — Somewhere between Pawtucket and Scranton, the Durham Bulls team bus made an abrupt stop late Thursday night, and manager Brady Williams pulled the entire team off the bus.

Mike Brosseau thought something had gone wrong, but he was going to hear the best news of his baseball career, that the Triple-A infielder was being promoted to the big leagues.

"He acted like he was all mad," Brosseau recalled. "We were literally on the side of the road, trucks coming in off the exit, and he made the announcement. It was pretty special. It was perfect honestly. The reaction from my teammates was unbelievable."

Brosseau’s contract was formally selected by the Rays before Saturday’s loss in Oakland, and Rays manager Kevin Cash said he plans to give Brosseau his first major-league start in Sunday’s series finale against the A’s.

“A lot of excitement, a lot of organizational excitement (today),” Cash said. “We talk about it, anytime a guy from our system gets called up, this is pretty unique. ... A lot of people are pumped up in the Tampa Bay Rays organization today to see him activated on the big-league roster.”

Brosseau was undrafted out of Oakland University in Michigan, but worked his way through the Rays farm system quickly. He was leading the International League with 57 RBIs, was tied for second with 139 total bases and fifth in on-base percentage (.406) and OPS (.986).

"I think my whole career has been kind of that underdog story, coming from being that undrafted guy and having that label," Brosseau said. "But I had that first sense of confidence getting invited to spring training by the Rays last year and that was obviously a confidence booster, and then having this call, having them willing to take that chance on me, I just want to do the right things to prove them right."

Brosseau, who will take Daniel Robertson’s place on the 25-man roster after Robertson went on the IL, made starts as five positions this season at Durham. Cash said he could receive time at second, third and the corner outfield spots.

“Talking to Brady yesterday and throughout the season, we’ve been talking about him quite a bit,” Cash said. “He’s just put together a solid season. He’s worked on some things. His at-bats, they said, have just been tremendous throughout the first three months of the season. The versatility certainly helps.”

Brosseau’s OPS this season is 210 points higher than last year’s mark and he’s already set a career high with 14 homers.

“I think it was a big comfortability thing,” he said. “Last year, when I broke camp with Double A, it was kind of a new experience. I didn’t feel as comfortable breaking into that season. I think it has a lot to do with having Brady as my manager in Double A and now moving up with me in Triple A. That was a big thing, and then just zoning in more on the strike zone, not getting myself out as much as I did in previous years. Both of those factors contributed a lot to it.”

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“He’s improved all over,” Cash said. “I think now if it’s just one thing it’s probably just confidence and maturing as a hitter, recognizing things that make him good at the plate and sticking to that. ... He’s had some comfort, he’s had some consistency and now this is another step for him.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.