Brault pitched for Division II Regis University in Colorado, going 8-3, 2.63 with 103 strikeouts and 18 walks over 79 innings.
Steven came to Regis from Grossmont High in San Diego, where he was a teammate of Joe Musgrove.
Brault opted to play at Division II Regis because they have a vocal performance major, and Steven is a talented singer. Comedian and Cubs fan Bill Murray is an alumnus of Regis.
Brault was a vocal performance major in college, so he is a talented singer.
June 2013: Steven signed with the Orioles, via scout John Gillette after they chose him in the 11th round, out of Regis University in Colorado.
In 2014, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Brault as the 14th-best prospect in the Orioles organization. They had him at #18 in the winter before 2015 spring training, and at #15 a year later, early in 2016.
After being acquired by the Pirates, they had him up at #7 in the spring of 2017, in the Bucs farm system.
It was about an hour before first pitch on July 5, 2016, when Steven realized he wasn't ready for his Major League debut. The Pirates believe in Brault's stuff, and the 24-year-old lefty proved in four solid innings at Busch Stadium that he can command three pitches against a tough lineup. They believe in his makeup, too. Brault was confident, surprisingly free of nerves.
But he'd forgotten his glove. "Oh my gosh, there's no glove in my locker. Not a single one," Brault said. "I'm forgetful at times. I'll use that as an excuse."
With Jeff Locke's glove on his right hand, Brault held the Cardinals to two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out five over four innings in the Pirates' 5-2 victory. Brault's pitch count—82, more than he'd thrown since May 2—was the only thing standing between him and five innings and a win in the Majors.
"They ran some deep counts on him to stretch him out, but he did not give in. He stayed aggressive," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He made pitches. ... I thought he did a very good job."
With about 20 family members and friends in attendance, Brault took a moment to look around the ballpark and soak in the atmosphere when he first took the field. He had trouble putting away hitters, but he didn't get hit hard; the only run charged to him came as a result of an Aledmys Diaz walk and stolen base followed by a Matt Holliday single.
Brault even chipped in with a hit, a third-inning single up the middle off Cardinals starter Mike Leake . . . and his glove was on its way from Indianapolis to St. Louis. (Berry - MLB.com - 7/5/16)
If Brault doesn’t make it as a pitcher, his backup plan in life is to become a professional singer.
The 24-year-old bypassed scholarship offers from major college programs while starring at Grossmont High in El Cajon, Calif., in order to attend Division II Regis. The Denver college offers a major in music performance.
“When it came to choose colleges, it was mostly whether I would play baseball or sing,” said Brault, who started performing in musicals during his junior year of high school. “So when I found Regis and could do both, I immediately took it.”
While Brault’s idol is Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, he began performing last winter in a San Diego-based band called Street Gypsies, which plays primarily classic rock.
Steven even sang the National Anthem before a game at Aberdeen back in 2015. (John Perrotto - Baseball America - 8/12/2016)
There is a certain way the national anthem should be sung, Steven says. Don't get too fancy. Stay within a range you can handle. Above all else, get the words right.
That's the way Brault sang it at PNC Park on June 19, 2018, then he headed out to the Pirates' bullpen. The pitcher's performance was a rarity but nothing new for the lefty reliever. Brault sang the anthem twice in the lower levels of the Minors and once before a summer league game. This was Brault's first time singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" before a Major League game, though.
"This is something I've always wanted to do," Brault said. "I'm really excited I get to do it. My grandma was always a big proponent of it. She really wanted me to take the opportunity that a lot of people wouldn't have, to be able to sing then also be in the Majors right after it. I'm pretty excited."
Brault had a more selfless motivation, too. "A big part of it is showing people, showing kids, that it's OK to do other things," Brault said. "I think that's really important. It's something I really live by."
One of the other things Brault does is music. He landed the role of Joe Hardy in "Damn Yankees," his final musical. He majored in music performance with an emphasis on vocal performance at Regis University, where he also pitched and played the outfield. The 26-year-old sings in a San Diego-based band called Street Gypsies.
"This is another part of my life that I like to keep up all the time," Brault said. "I don't want to just pretend like my music career's over."
It's no secret that Brault has interests beyond the ballpark. He and teammate Trevor Williams co-host a podcast called "IMHO" in which they rank everything from their favorite breakfast cereals to which Olympic sports they'd like to play. At the end of every episode, they sing the show's title acronym in harmony.
"He's a fine singer. It's going to sound good," Williams said beforehand. "I just don't know if we're going to laugh, salute him—I don't know what we're going to do."
A few of them glanced back toward home plate to watch Brault as he sang. When Brault finished, he was met with high-fives from president Frank Coonelly, manager Clint Hurdle, his teammates, and a bear hug from pal Joe Musgrove.
Brault hoped his performance would merit an encore—"and not just be like, 'Hey, never ever do that ever again,'" he said. He'd also like to see other big leaguers follow his lead. "I'm excited for Steven, and I think Steven's whole precept is that you can do other things and be happy with the other things you can do, the other gifts you can have," Hurdle said. "I know Steven appreciates gifts. They don't always have to be athletically inclined." (Berry - mlb.com)
Brault went to the same high school as Joe Musgrove (also a Pirates pitcher). Brault even took Musgrove's sister to the prom. Brault was involved in theatre with Musgrove's sister. (Intentional Talk interview - Sept., 2018)
Steven held up his end of the bargain in a Spring Training 2019 game, overcoming a rough first inning in which he reverted to his old mechanics. Detroit loaded the bases on two walks and a single, which brought pitching coach Ray Searage out of the dugout. According to Brault, Searage informed the lefty he was pitching like he had a “stick up his [butt],” and encouraged the former vocal performance major to relax by singing a song.
“So I started singing, and the next three innings, what do you know,” Brault said. “The next three innings are where I want to be, so it was good.” [Brault put together 3 2/3 scoreless innings.] (Berry - mlb.com - 3/19/19)
Nickname: SQUID. No, this one doesn’t have anything to do with all the ink on the lefthander’s arms. It’s a nickname given by Stan Kyles, a pitching coach in the Pirates’ organization who worked with Brault in Triple-A. For some reason, the moniker stuck with Brault. It’s even his Twitter handle, @SquidBrault.
Sept 27, 2019: For much of his career, the debate about Steven Brault has been simple: Is he a starter or a reliever? Now, the Pirates appear to be interested in adding another wrinkle. Is the lefthanded pitcher also an outfielder? Manager Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington broached the idea with Brault during his exit interview, and Brault said he is interested in potentially picking up some innings in the outfield to get more at-bats next season.
“There used to be two-way players way back in the day, then people decided it wouldn’t work in Major League Baseball. I think what you’re seeing is that it can,” Brault said. “If you can have somebody that can add value on both sides of the ball, obviously that’s nice. I would love to be that guy for this team.”
It’s not a foreign concept for Brault, who was an outfielder and a pitcher at Regis University. But he hasn’t roamed the outfield since then, he said, aside from doing so “very heartily in batting practice.”
“It’ll be interesting to see how they decide to go about it and how it all works out,” Brault said. “It’s something we talked about in our exit meeting a little bit, that we’ll try to get more at-bats next year. I’m excited, and I will definitely be doing a lot of hitting work in the offseason.”
There are other two-way players out there, none as notable as Angels starter/DH Shohei Ohtani. The Pirates helped veteran outfielder JB Shuck pick up pitching as a reliever this season in Triple-A Indianapolis. And there was another example in front of the Bucs: Reds reliever/center fielder Michael Lorenzen. Brault started the Pirates’ 6-5 win over the Reds, striking out 10 and picking up a fifth-inning single to boost his average to .341. Lorenzen started in center field, pitched two scoreless innings in relief and hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning before Kevin Newman sent the Pirates home with a walk-off homer.
Brault has always taken pride in his hitting. This year, he’s gone 14-for-41 with a homer, a double, one walk and only eight strikeouts. When the Pirates’ bench has been short, he and Joe Musgrove have been Hurdle’s emergency pinch-hitting options. Even though Brault was done pitching for the night, Hurdle left him in to hit for himself in the fifth inning.
Brault said he didn’t discuss any specifics with Hurdle and Huntington, though he expects they will talk more over the offseason. When Hurdle brought it up, he made it sound as if the plan would be to have Brault pitch in the starting rotation while occasionally playing the outfield. (A Berry - MLB.com - Sept 28, 2019)
Feb. 2020: Steven was a special guest vocalist for a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert. Pirates fans have heard him sing the National Anthem before, but now Brault was on stage at Heinz Hall. He was on stage with the PNC Pops for “Blockbuster Broadway.”
2020 off-season: Steven explained that he was too busy to talk, even to his new manager. He wasn’t working out, playing video games, traveling abroad or doing anything most professional baseball players do in their downtime. Brault was inside Studio West in his hometown, San Diego.
More specifically, the 27-year-old was singing lead vocals and conducting a chorus of 17 cancer survivors as they sang their part of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the musical "Carousel."
Brault spent part of his offseason recording an album titled "A Pitch at Broadway," a collection of 12 popular Broadway songs from such musicals as "Hadestown," "Dear Evan Hansen," "Wicked" and "Hamilton." The album will be released on April 3. (Adam Berry - Feb. 10, 2020)
It wasn’t really a concert, and there wasn’t really a setlist, so Steven took requests from the audience he entertained as he assumed control of MLB’s Instagram for about an hour April 7, 2020.
Sporting what he called his “quarantine mustache” from his place in Bradenton, Fla., Brault welcomed three guests—Chris Rose from MLB Network, teammate Josh Bell, and drummer Kenny Aronoff. And at one point Angels manager Joe Maddon popped into the comments with a thumbs-up emoji. Bell, who lent his voice on Brault’s album, immediately requested that his teammate sing “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” and Brault happily obliged. (Berry - mlb.com - 4/7/2020)
June 2013: Steven signed with the Orioles, via scout John Gillette after they chose him in the 11th round, out of Regis University in Colorado.
Feb. 25, 2015: The Pirates acquired Brault as the player to be named for OF Travis Snider.
- Jan 15, 2021: The Pirates avoided arbitration with Brault, agreeing to a one-year contract for $2.05 million.
- Nov 30, 2021: Brault chose free agency.
|Birth City:||La Mesa, CA|
|Draft:||Orioles #11 - 2013 - Out of Regis Univ. (CO)|
Brault has a 90-95 mph 4-seam FASTBALL and an 88-92 mph 2-seam SINKER that plays up because of its very lively sink and the deception in his delivery. He is not afraid to come inside on hitters.
When Steven stays on top of his 82-84 mph SLIDER, it looks just like his fastball, but darts away from lefthanded hitters at the last instant. He can locate it down and in on righties. And he uses that slider to expand the zone. He also has good feel and arm speed for his 85-88 mph CHANGEUP, which might be his best secondary pitch against righthanded hitters. He added a new and better grip for it early in 2018 spring training.
Scouting Grades: Steven gets a 50 for all three of his pitches: the heater, slider and changeup. And he gets a 55 for his control, on the 20-80 scouting scale.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 54.3% of the time; Sinker 12.9% of the time; Change 8.5% of the time; and Slider 24.2% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 50% of the time; Sinker 25% of the time; Change 12.7% of the time; Slider 14.2% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 43.8% of the time, his Sinker 21.2%; Change 13%; Slider 19.2%; and Curveball 2.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.5 mph, Sinker 92.7, Change 86, Slider 87, and Curve 79.1 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 48.7% of the time, his Sinker 15.6%; Change 13.9%; Slider 21%; and Curveball 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.5 mph, Sinker 91.6, Change 84.7, Slider 83.1, and Curve 71.7 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 39.6% of the time, his Sinker 11.2%; Change 23.9%; Slider 22.8%; and Curveball 2.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.7 mph, Sinker 91.6, Change 85.4, Slider 83.4, and Curve 74.2 mph.
Steven has a loose, whippy arm action and uses a deceptive three-quarters arm slot, helping him hide the ball from lefties. He has deception because he hides the ball behind his body.
Brault pitches at an aggressive tempo. He is a command lefthander with little power on his stuff, but a solid ability to change speeds. He consistently fills up the bottom of the strike zone. Steven rarely gives up a home run. He induces a lot of groundball outs.
His ceiling is as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He lacks a wipeout pitch, but has the intelligence to be a #4 starter, mixing up his pitches for success.
August 29, 2017: Brault was named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher.
September 23, 2017: Brault was named the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Feb 15, 2019: Steven Brault joked that he's never experienced the Spring Training that he hears other players talk about—the relaxed camp where they just prepare for the season. Brault has always had to worry about winning a job.
The lefthander is once again competing for a spot on the Pirates' Opening Day roster. He's up for the fifth spot in the rotation, as are righthanders Jordan Lyles and Nick Kingham. Brault could be a candidate for the bullpen, although the Bucs added lefthanded options this winter in Francisco Liriano and Tyler Lyons.
In that regard, this spring is nothing new for Brault. But there is something different. He made physical changes, tweaking his delivery in an effort to improve his command, and adopted a new mentality. In previous years, he'd say he wanted to force management to make a tough decision. Now?
"I want to make it an easy decision for them," Brault said. "I want to be the clear choice to be the starter going into the season." To that end, Brault implemented a year-round throwing program and modified his mechanics. The most noticeable change is a higher arm slot, but Brault also shortened his stride and his arm path.
"This year I actually wanted to work on stuff because my command was shoddy last year," Brault said. "I wanted to make sure that I actually worked throughout the offseason to get rid of that instead of just working to get ready for the season."
Brault promised that his changes would be "visually evident," and that was indeed the case as he took the mound to throw a bullpen session during his workout at Pirate City. There's a theme to those tweaks: shorter, simpler. "If you want to simplify," Brault said, "shorten things."
Brault wants his delivery to be more repeatable and consistent, believing his command will improve as a result. Brault led the Pirates with 57 walks last season while posting a 4.61 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 91.2 innings over 45 appearances. He was pleased with his fastball command, the foundation for any pitcher. Pitching coach Ray Searage said Brault's adjustments were slight but "very significant" and also came away encouraged by his progress thus far.
"I only see positive things with Steven right now," Searage said. "I'm not going to fix anything that ain't broken. I'm going to let him go do his job. He's got a good handle on it. He's in a good place right now, and I don't want to do anything to disrupt that." (A Berry - MLB.com - Feb 15, 2019)
May 3, 2019: For a few hours on April 22, Brault was bound for Triple-A Indianapolis to be a starting pitcher again. The Pirates optioned him before that night’s game against the D-backs, and Brault was watching on TV when reliever Nick Burdi left the game clutching his right biceps. A few hours later, he got a call that he’d be back in Pittsburgh’s bullpen the next day.
The transition was “very strange” for Brault. But the lefthander took a step forward as he struck out three over two scoreless innings in the Pirates’ 6-4 win over the Rangers.
“You never want to come up because your friend gets hurt. That’s like the worst thing ever,” Brault said, referring to Burdi’s injury. “It can maybe be something I can roll with and build on, since I have this momentum. Now there’s going to be time for me to get some outings here. I plan on making the most of it.”
Brault’s first appearance of the season came on April 1, when he worked in the 10th and 11th innings of a 6-5 loss to the Cardinals. He didn’t pitch for a week after that, then he didn’t get on the mound in a game again until April 24. He gave up 8 runs in 6.2 innings over those three appearances. And his standing in the bullpen pecking order was made even clearer when he was briefly optioned.
But Brault worked consistently on his mechanics in the bullpen, throwing off the mound every three days while seeking advice from pitching coaches Ray Searage and Justin Meccage. They’ve encouraged the lefty to stay closed in his delivery and incorporate his whole body in his throwing motion, and they saw some of those changes work out well.
“I’m not a huge guy, so anything I can use to get more [out of my delivery], it’s helpful,” Brault said. “And honestly, when I’m pitching like that, it’s more athletic for me and it’s easier for me to throw strikes.” (A Berry - MLB.com - May 3, 2019)
Brault’s four-seam fastball touched 95.6 mph, according to Statcast, the third-hardest fastball he has thrown in the Majors. His fastball averaged 93.9 mph, a full 1.3 mph harder than his previous appearance. Manager Clint Hurdle said Brault showed his best fastball “in a while” as he entered the game after Jordan Lyles’ four-inning start. He gave up a single to Shin-Soo Choo but induced an inning-ending double play with a well-located changeup to Elvis Andrus, then he struck out Hunter Pence and Joey Gallo in a perfect sixth inning.
Brault cited the time down and his mechanical work as factors in his best outing of the season. He is also growing comfortable in his current role. Getting ready to pitch in a hurry isn’t an issue, but last season, he went from starting in April to pitching multiple innings in extras in late August with stops in just about every inning in between. This year, his role is more clearly defined as a long reliever who will pitch when the Pirates need someone to cover multiple innings.
“As the season goes on, obviously I’d like to pitch a lot more. But with outings like that, I think they’ll come faster,” Brault said. “Just keep building on it and see what happens.” (A Berry - MLB.com - May 3, 2019)
Steven talks about his changeup: “I’d never really had a good changeup. It was always kind of ‘meh.’ Two years ago, I decided I was going to find a grip that was comfortable, and I was going to just keep throwing it until it worked. Or it didn’t. So the last two years I’ve been throwing my changeup the same way. Starting this spring, it’s been not only comfortable and easy to throw, it’s actually been good. Most of my strikeouts came on changeups this spring. As the season goes on, I expect to be using it a lot.
“A changeup is a feel pitch, more so than an effort pitch. You have to be able to feel it, because you have to throw it just like a fastball. That kind of idea. It has to feel comfortable. Over time it started working for me. As much as anything, it’s been about the reps.
“I’d tried a lot of changeup grips. I used to think that in order to make a changeup nasty, you had to grip it really hard, or some people think you want to grip it really soft. What I found is that … I used to throw a four-seam changeup, and it didn’t move at all. It was just straight. It was terrible. I figured that my sinker moves a lot more than my four-seamer, so why don’t I throw a changeup that’s just like my sinker?
“I throw a one-seam fastball, and now I throw my changeup the same way. I just move my fingers over, and pull down on the ball. I’m pulling on three seams. That takes off velocity, and it moves in a downward motion instead of just floating in. Even so, I think the loss of velocity is what’s most important. You want to disrupt timing.
“The beauty of the changeup is that it looks exactly like a fastball. The problem comes when a hitter thinks it’s a fastball and it’s only two mph slower than a fastball. That’s not going to work. You want your changeup to be 7-10 mph off your fastball.” (David Laurila - Fangraphs - April 8, 2019)
Sept 1, 2019: Brault gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, walking two and striking out five over 82 pitches, 77 of which were fastballs. The first offspeed pitch, a slider, came on pitch No. 70.
“He’s done that before,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “If you watch the fastball movement, the two-seamer, the sinker played extremely well today. He had a Plan B if he needed to go to it. He didn’t need to go to it.”
The start was another example of how Brault, who began the season in the bullpen, has been putting things together lately. His ERA is 3.41 since he returned Aug. 6 from a stint on the injured list with a left shoulder strain. He has demonstrated an ability to dominate with his raw stuff, as well as to figure out a way to pitch effectively without his best stuff.
As of the start of the 2021 season, Steven had a career record of 12-15 with 4.68 ERA, having allowed 35 home runs and 316 hits in 315 innings.
- 2021 Season: Health is something that Brault has struggled with, including in 2021. During the 2021 season Brault made just 7 starts. He spent the first four months on the injured list and then finished the season back on the IL.
In his 7 starts Brault struggled. The lefty posted a 5.86 ERA, 4.62 FIP, walked 9.4% of batters faced, struck out just 15.0% of batters faced and allowed 3 home runs in 27.2 innings pitched. Brault owns a 4.77 ERA and a 4.67 FIP in 343.1 career innings pitched across 107 games, 52 of which have been starts. (Marty Leap - Oct. 13, 2021)
Steven has solid athleticism. He fields his position well.
Brault holds runners on base well.
- And he is a very good hitter.
2016: Making his sixth start for Triple-A Indianapolis on May 8, he dropped a slash bunt and hustled down the line. As he approached the bag, Brault extended his left leg to avoid the first baseman's foot. Rather than both of them rolling their ankles, Brault tore his left hamstring. "Steven Brault prior to the hamstring [tear] was a different guy than we saw at the Major League level last year," general manager Neal Huntington said. "More power. More quality of stuff. More crispness of the stuff.
July 5, 2019: Steven Brault has been an effective starter for the Pirates ever since they gave him a shot as a starter in May. In turn, his exit during the series opener against the Brewers at PNC Park may prove costly for the team’s rotation.
The club announced that Brault left the game in the fifth inning with left shoulder discomfort.
"It was a little bit bothersome from the beginning,” Brault said after the 7-6, extra-innings loss. “Just had a hard time getting it loose today, and then came out for that fifth inning, it just wouldn't loosen up."
July 6-Aug 6, 2019: Brault was on the IL with left shoulder strain.
March 2, 2020: Brault will be shut down from throwing with a left shoulder muscle strain. In two weeks, the Pirates plan to reassess Brault. He’ll remain with the team during his rehab.
April 22, 2020: Brault (strained left shoulder) should resume throwing in three to five days, Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said. Brault is currently in what Tomczyk called the “advanced stages of his rehab,” taking part in throwing-like activities. Brault also missed a month last season with a strained throwing shoulder, so Tomczyk said this time allowed Brault to heal and address physical deficiencies that may have led to the injury.
March 24, 2021: Brault will be sidelined after being diagnosed with a left lat strain. Tomczyk projected it will be around 10 weeks before the lefty can return to full competition.
“I don't want to put words in his mouth, but from my lens, from my perspective, when the doctors and the medical staff revealed this to him, there's disappointment, frustration, but at the end of it, there's opportunity,” Tomczyk said. “Fortunately, Steven has been through a long rehab like this prior, and he's come back even stronger. And I know that's where his mindset is right now.”
April 7-Aug 4, 2021: Steven is on the IL. Brault (left arm discomfort) is working through range-of-motion exercises in Bradenton, and the Pirates hope to have a formal diagnostic reassessment late next week. He is not throwing yet, as the club said he would take a month off from throwing to begin his recovery.
- Sept 11-Nov 6, 2021: Brault was on the IL. with recurring left lat strain. Imaging done on Brault’s throwing arm, which tightened up in his shortened two-inning start, has not come back yet, but given the nature of the injury (left arm discomfort) and Brault’s health history -- including a 60-day IL stay this season -- the Pirates will take no chances.