Former Ida Baker pitching standout Sean Brady is enroute to Arizona to begin a dream very few ever accomplish - being a major league baseball player.
Brady, a fifth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians, signed a seven-year contract with an $800,000 signing bonus Wednesday, and is heading off to rookie ball in Arizona.
Brady turned down a scholarship from the University of Florida to accept the offer to turn pro.
Ida Baker 2013 graduate Sean Brady was
drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of
the MLB’s June Draft. He signed a seven-year contract this week and reports to Arizona for rookie ball.
While the odds are somewhat stacked against him, he has one advantage that could give him an edge above the rest. His left arm.
Brady had many people to thank in regards to his making it into pro ball.
"It's a great feeling. It's a big thanks to the Cleveland organization for signing me," Brady said. "Everything comes at once and it hits you and it's a big sigh of relief actually."
Lefty pitchers in the big leagues are in high demand, since most pitchers (and people) are right-handed. If there's someone who can throw a 90 mph fastball as a southpaw, that puts him in line for a long major league career.
Just ask former big leaguer Jesse Orosco, who said he extended his career 10 years once the game began to specialize.
Baker baseball coach Bob Vandeventer, who coached Brady his senior season, said with the dearth of quality left-handed pitching, it could help him reach the majors quicker.
"He has a fastball above 90 mph so that separates him from all the other pitchers," Vandeventer said. "He also has a good curve ball, slider, and changeup. He doesn't get rattled. When you're drafted that high, it isn't just one thing. He has the whole package."
That advantage isn't lost on Brady, who will have a slightly smoother path up the organizational ladder than right-handers.
"Right-handers have to go above and beyond all the others to be noticed, while as a lefty you just have to pitch," Brady said.
It is unknown if he will be used as a starter or reliever. If he relieves, he likely will be used as a lefty specialist to face one or two left-handed batters in the latter innings.
Orosco made a career out of that. In fact, Orosco turned it into a 24-year major league career that ended with him as the all-time leader in appearances by a pitcher.
Orosco said it still takes hard work and the hunger has to be there, but a lefty pitcher has a tremendous advantage.
"When I started (in 1979), it wasn't specialized yet. When it did in the '90s that opened the door for me," Orosco said. "So, even though I lost some velocity, I was able to get lefties out. I was able to pitch another 10 or 12 years."
That told, Orosco said it is an advantage to Brady as a starter because if it doesn't work out for him as a starter, he can go to the bullpen, like Orosco did.
"You may be able to go seven or eight innings as your career goes on, but you can also be a strong three or four inning pitcher in relief," Orosco said. "If you go in as a reliever and you start depleting, there's nowhere to go after that."
For Brady, it's about getting to the big leagues first, then worrying about a long big league career.
"I have to make it there first, then take it from there," Brady said. "Just take it one day at a time."
What advice would Orosco tell Brady if ever asked?
"Work hard, listen to your coaches. The whole world is using modern training. It's there for you. Use it," Orosco said. "I worked religiously on keeping my body and my legs strong."
Vandeventer said it ultimately was hard work that allowed Brady to reach where he's at now.
"It was a very proud moment. He's worked his head off to get there and now he gets to enjoy the benefits," Vandeventer said. "The extra work he did that nobody sees is paying off. It was coming in weekends and working in the gym first thing is what got him here."
Brady went 7-1 with a 0.68 ERA as a senior with the Bulldogs last season. He struck out 104 batters in just 51 2/3 innings.