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Brent Lillibridge

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Brent Stuart Lillibridge

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Shortstop Brent Lillibridge hit .420 in high school and also played basketball. In college, he debuted with a .388/.451/.699 freshman campaign. His slugging percentage was the best of any freshman in the country and third in the Pacific-10 Conference. He tied Conor Jackson for fifth in the conference in average but lost Freshman of the Year honors to Jeff Clement. Lillibridge was picked as a first-team Freshman All-American outfielder by Baseball America and was an All-Conference outfielder alongside the likes of Andre Ethier, Carlos Quentin and Brian Anderson. He drove in the US's only run in the Gold Medal game of the 2003 Pan American Games. In the second inning, he hit a sacrifice fly to score Jeff Larish; it was the only run Norge Vera allowed and not enough for Jered Weaver, who took the loss.

As a sophomore, Brent batted .317/.428/.522 and again was an All-Conference pick and he was third in the Conference with 65 runs. He had a .330/.441/.574 batting line in 2005 and was an All-Conference choice for the third year in a row.

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Lillibridge in the 4th round of the 2005 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Greg Hopkins and began his professional baseball career with the Williamsport Crosscutters hitting .243/.305/.432. He built on that, though, and in 2006 hit .313/.426/.423 with the Lynchburg Hillcats, stealing 24 in 29 tries and scoring a Carolina League-leading 47 runs in 52 games before being promoted to the Hickory Crawdads, where he had a .299/.414/.522 line with 29 swipes in 37 games. Overall, he hit .305/.418/.490 with 87 walks, 53 steals in 66 tries and 106 runs (fifth-best in all of the minor leagues). He was promoted to the Altoona Curve for the playoffs and was 0 for 2 with a walk. He led the Pirates minor league system in OBP, runs and walks. He was then traded away by Dave Littlefield along with Mike Gonzalez in exchange for Adam LaRoche and Jamie Romak in January of 2007.

He started for the USA in the 2007 Futures Game but struck out in both of his at-bats before being replaced by Brian Bocock. He hit .275/.355/.387 with 14 steals in 21 tries in 57 games for the Mississippi Braves and .287/.331/.436 in 87 games for the Richmond Braves (with 28 steals in 33 tries). His 42 swipes led Atlanta farmhands. Baseball America rated him as the #13 prospect in the Southern League (between Chin-Lung Hu and Jonathan Meloan) and the #7 International League prospect (between Jacoby Ellsbury and Yunel Escobar, the man he replaced in Richmond).

Lillibridge only hit .195/.267/.273 in his first 19 games with Richmond in 2008, though he was 8-for-9 in steal attempts. He was called to the major leagues by the Braves in late April, 2008, to fill in while starting shortstop Yunel Escobar healed an ailing finger. Lillibridge made his major league debut hitting 8th and playing shortstop on April 26, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in a game against the New York Mets. He struck out against John Maine in his first MLB at-bat.

Lillibridge hit only .200/.238/.333 in 29 games for the 2008 Braves; with Richmond, he also struggled, with a .220/.294/.344 batting line. He stole 23 bases in 30 tries for Richmond.

In December 2008, Brent was traded once more, sent with Tyler Flowers, Santos Rodriguez and Jon Gilmore to the Chicago White Sox for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. He spent a good part of the 2009 season with the White Sox as a utility player, but hit only .158/.273/.179 in 46 games. At AAA Charlotte, he did a little better, batting .252/.339/.358 in 67 games, and as a result of his lack of offensive production, his shine as a prospect became quite tarnished.

In 2010, he played 64 games for the White Sox, hitting .224/.248/.378 while playing at second base and in the outfield. He also played 48 games for Charlotte and hit .270/.330/.378. He improved somewhat in 2011, to .258/.340/.505 in 97 games. He did hit 13 homers that year, but it was a bit freakish as he had only 5 doubles; that season, he was used mainly in the outfield and at first base. That resulted in a fine 124 OPS+.

In 2012, Lillibridge was traded twice in the span of a month, first going from the White Sox to the Boston Red Sox in the trade for Kevin Youkilis on June 24th, and then moving again, to the Cleveland Indians, in return for a minor league player on July 24th. He had hit .175/.232/.190 in 49 games for Chicago, and an even worse .125 (2 for 16, no walks, both hits being singles) in his 10 games for Boston.

Sources include 2004-2008 Baseball Almanacs, Minorleaguebaseball.com, University of Washington website, Altoona Curve website and Thebaseballcube.com

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