Reds scouting report at center of lawsuit between former minor league pitcher and bus company

Man says bus crash ended career, cost him millions
Reds scouting report at center of lawsuit between former minor league pitcher and bus company
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 16:16:14-04

CINCINNATI -- A Cincinnati Reds scouting report is at the center of a lawsuit between a former minor league pitcher and a bus company.

The Atlanta Braves drafted Tyler Brosius in 2013. He was making his way up through the organization's affiliates and joined the Carolina Mudcats, the Braves' Class A-Advanced affiliate, in April of 2015.

About a month later, the Mudcats' team bus went off the road while speeding on a curve in the early morning, according to the lawsuit. The bus turned on its side and slid. Brosius was partially ejected through a window and dragged about 116 feet.

Brosius was hospitalized with serious brain, spine and shoulder injuries, according to his lawsuit. The Asheville, North Carolina Citizen-Times reported later that year lower back pain was preventing him from returning to the Mudcats.

The next year, Brosius filed a lawsuit against the bus company. He says he would have made it to the Major Leagues if not for the crash and that he lost out on millions in earnings. The bus company says he wouldn't have made it. The quality of Brosius' pitching a few years back could now be the deciding factor in the dispute.

That's where the Reds come in. According to Seth Levinson, Brosius' former agent, his company received a tip from a Reds scout in 2014 that Brosius was "a hot player, a can't-miss player."

"I believe now, sitting here, that Tyler Brosius potentially was a number one or number two, a frontline pitcher," Levinson said during a deposition. "And if we're talking about a frontline starting pitcher, we're talking about a guy that would have made anywhere between $100 and $200 million in his career."

Was Brosius that promising a prospect, or was that just the talk of an agent who had high hopes for his client? Both sides in the lawsuit brought in experts to give their opinions.

Former Braves GM Frank Wren had good things to say about Brosius. He had expected to call up Brosius to Atlanta in September of 2016 or '17, though Wren was ousted from the Braves in September 2014 and ended up as senior VP of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

"We saw him as a relief pitcher at minimum, with the potential to develop into a starter with additional development," Wren wrote.

Bruce Manno, who was the Braves director of player development, also expected to bring Brosius up to the Majors.

"Tyler had excellent extension and movement on his fastball," Manno said in court records. "He had the ability to keep hitters off balance. He had three solid Major League-caliber pitches: a moving fastball, a hard-breaking curve with depth and a cutter.

"It was the consensus of the Braves organization that Tyler would be in the Major Leagues as a right-handed reliever by no later than 2018, and eventually a middle-to-back-end rotation starter."

However, Manno left the Braves during the same "regime change" as Wren. Then he landed a job as a scout for the Reds.

Both Manno and Wren were brought on by the prosecution as experts. The defense also brought on a pair of experts, including a former Reds senior director of pro scouting and a baseball writer, in an attempt to show Brosius didn't have what it takes to reach the Majors. Neither of them had worked with Brosius.

Seeing the MLB scouting reports on Brosius are important to the case because they're documented assessments of his skills from before the crash, and the Reds' reports are particularly important because of Manno's comments, lawyers argued. They issued subpoenas to all 30 MLB teams.

James Marx, the Reds' chief legal officer, replied with an objection to the subpoena.

"The discovery seeks the disclosure of highly confidential and propriety research and commercial information of the Reds which is private and protected" under the rules for subpoenas, he wrote.

Marx suggested in the letter it would be more convenient, cheaper and less burdensome for the court to just seek scouting reports from the Braves.

One of the lawyers on the case, James Kelly Ratliff, called Marx and said that they would give the Reds extra time to produce the reports and compensate the team for any expenses incurred, according to court records. Both sides in the lawsuit also agreed to a protective order to keep documents with trade secrets confidential.

Marx told Ratliff the Reds have "at least a couple reports" on Brosius, but said they would not produce the reports voluntarily, according to court records.

The defense filed a motion Thursday seeking to compel the Reds to produce their scouting reports on Brosius.

A Reds spokesperson said they don't comment on active legal proceedings.

As for Brosius, his career in baseball is over. As he waits to see how his lawsuit turns out, he's been selling used cars in Nashville, the suit says.