Name: Eude Ezequiel Brito
Born: August 19, 1978 in Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic
Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent on July 3, 1998
Phillies Debut: August 21, 2005
Final Phillies Game: September 18, 2006
Uniform Number: 58
About Eude Brito: If you've ever perused through the annual Phillies media guide, you'll notice there's quite a large minor league section which lists information and statistics for every player currently in the organization. As you can imagine, there is a good deal of turnover in the farm system as new players are drafted and signed, while others are traded, released, or retire when they realize they don't quite have enough talent to progress any further up the professional ranks. On the other hand, there are some names that you see listed year after year. Many of these players are nothing more than organizational filler, good enough to keep the system fully stocked but not held in high enough regard for the club to consider them a part of their future plans. Every now and then, however, one of these players manages to stick around long enough and eventually climbs the ladder all the way to the Major Leagues. One such player was Eude Brito, a diminutive Domincan lefty who bounced back and forth as a starter and reliever in the minors for several years before finding some fill-in work with the Phillies for a brief part of two seasons.
Like pretty much all players hailing from the Dominican Republic, Eude Brito's professional baseball career began when he was signed as an amateur free agent, as only prospects from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories are eligible for the MLB Draft. In Brito's case, it was the Phillies who inked him to a contract during the summer of 1998. His on-field debut came the following year when he went 0-1 with a 5.02 ERA in 12 games (three starts) for the Rookie League Gulf Coast Phillies. After splitting the 2000 season between the Rookie League and low "A" levels, Brito enjoyed a strong 2001 campaign with the mid "A" Lakewood BlueClaws, going 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA with six saves in 44 appearances out of the bullpen.
Brito's career took a major turn following the 2001 season, and it had nothing to do with his pitching performance. After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Major League Baseball decided to be more diligent in checking the backgrounds of players. It had long been hinted that many players from Latin American countries had been using doctored birth certificates, and that turned out to be the case after checks were done with heavier scrutiny. Eude Brito was one of those players. When the Phillies initially signed Brito, his year of birth was listed as 1981 but it was revealed he was in fact three years older. Despite the deception (and knowing the fault was not entirely his if he was even at fault at all), the Phils kept Brito in the organization, where he slowly kept climbing the ladder. He would split the 2002 season between Lakewood and high "A" Clearwater before returning to Clearwater for the entire 2003 campaign. All of Brito's appearances between 2001 and 2003 came out of the bullpen. In 2004, he would make seven starts among his 44 outings at AA Reading, where he went 8-6 with a 4.42 ERA before moving on up to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2005. Of Brito's 28 AAA appearances in '05, 15 were starts. Overall, he was 6-2 with a 4.85 ERA. Not necessarily impressive, but the Phillies thought enough to give Brito the call to the big leagues in early August, though it would be quite a while before he actually got a chance to show his stuff to MLB hitters.
On August 5, 2005, Eude Brito was summoned to the Philadelphia Phillies from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to serve as the long reliever for the big club. The role of long reliever is kind of a thankless one, similar to being a punter in football. Generally speaking, the less work they get, the better. Brito would not see any action for two weeks after being called up, but that would change when Cory Lidle went down with a strained oblique. On August 21, two days after his 27th birthday, Brito made his MLB debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed one run in five innings, but did not get a decision in a game the Phillies would win by a score of 4-3. Brito would make six appearances for the Phillies in '05 (five starts), going 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA. His first career win came on September 12, when he tossed six shutout innings to outduel Tim Hudson and the Atlanta Braves, 4-1.
Brito would start the 2006 season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but was recalled by the Phils in early June. It did not go nearly as well for Brito the second time around, as he was hit hard in losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals before being sent back to the minors. He would be recalled when the MLB rosters expanded in September, picking up his second career win after replacing an injured Scott Mathieson early in a 16-4 blowout over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on September 2. Brito would go 1-2 with a 7.36 ERA in five appearances for the Phillies in '06, two of which were starts. With the Lehigh Valley IronPigs set to begin play in 2008, the Phils temporarily shifted their AAA affiliation to Ottawa, which is where Brito began the 2007 season. He would go just 1-6 with a 6.17 ERA in what turned out to be his last season as a member of the Phillies organization. Brito would split the 2008 campaign between the farm systems of the Nationals and New York Mets in what was his last season of affiliated ball as of this writing. Brito spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the St. George Roadrunners of the independent Golden League. Among his teammates in St. George were journeyman lefty Vic Darensbourg, who spent part of the 2008 season in the Phillies organization, and Bartolome Fortunato, who will go down in history as the pitcher that gave up Ryan Howard's first career home run.
Personal Recollection: As you can probably imagine, that whole part about perusing through the media guide is based on my own experiences as I've read them cover to cover for as long as I can remember. I always like to familiarize myself with the names of players in the farm system to get an idea of who could be of use to the big club in the future. Some names are bound to stick out, and it's hard not to notice a name like Eude. There was no pronunciation listed and I'm not sure if there was ever just one that was settled upon. During Brito's brief time with the Phillies, I heard his name pronounced "EY-yoo-dey", "ey-YOO-dey", "OO-dey", and "YOO-dey." Guess it'll remain a mystery. Speaking of which, with all the guys that were found out to be using altered birth dates, I can only imagine how many were being used before September 11. Wonder if we'll ever find out how old Fernando Valenzuela really is.
Looking at Brito's game logs, I realized I witnessed both of his career wins in person. There were a lot of people saying "Who?" when he started that game against Tim Hudson, but it turned out to be his shining moment as a Major League Baseball player. His other win came in the second game of a day/night doubleheader against the Braves. Scott Mathieson went down with the elbow injury that would ultimately require two Tommy John operations in the first inning, and Brito was summoned in. He gave up a two-run homer to Chipper Jones in the first, but it was all Phillies from there. Brito didn't have great stuff or pinpoint control. He just kind of was what he was, a fringe pitcher who managed to break on through for a little while. Hey, lots of guys have had it a lot worse.
That's my story on Eude Brito. Feel free to share any of your own recollections.