February 17, 2017
Nestled in between an over-slot Wil Myers and Joe Kelly’s Great Stuff™ in the third round of the 2009 draft, you’ll find Broxton going to the Arizona Diamondbacks out of a small Florida junior college. Broxton earned his six-figure bonus on the back of a .340/.450/.641 campaign in his draft season that includes 10 homers and steals apiece in 48 games. There were some whispers of dreaded “character issues” after he reneged on a two-sport commitment to Florida Atlantic University, but he presented as a hard worker and his combination of on-field performance and massive raw tools pushed an aggressive draft slot.
For the first several seasons of his early professional career he wore a very similar tag: great tools, outstanding potential in centerfield, poor pitch recognition and approach that might ultimately doom his bat. After muddling along up through the first half of his inaugural campaign in the California League in 2012, he went off to the tune of a .333/.361/.544 line in the second half, solidifying himself among the up-and-coming Diamondback ranks. So solid was his standing within the org, in fact, that Arizona traded him to Pittsburgh after he appeared to hit a wall at Double A the next season. Pittsburgh, in turn, traded him on to Milwaukee last winter for Quad-A corner bat Jason Rogers, again reaffirming just how valuable an asset big-league front offices saw in Broxton. Except then 2016 happened.
What Went Right in 2016
After an abysmal start to the season (0-for-17 with 11 whiffs in six games) culminated in a swift and unceremonious demotion to Triple A, he made a fairly significant adjustment to his load, dropping his hand position and reversing a hitch into his trigger. He promptly destroyed PCL pitching and forced a return ticket to Milwaukee, where he promptly destroyed big-league pitching for the better part of the season’s remainder. He produced a .278 TAv in spite of a whiff rate north of 36-percent, relying on a robust .373 BABIP to lug his batting average into won’t-kill-you-territory.
The good news is that the BABIP was largely earned. Broxton’s 95 mile-an-hour average exit velocity was the fourth-best mark of any big-league hitter last year, sitting right behind Giancarlo Stanton. When he made contact – and that was an extremely rare occurrence relative to the average major leaguer, mind you – he rarely made weak contact. He pulled the ball consistently and with authority, with the kind of groundballs that beat shifts and the kind of aerial assaults that would make Wily Mo blush. Coupled with a top-30 speed score, it was a potent combination for turning contact into hits.