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Kevin Brady ready to get started with Cutters

July 13, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Kevin Brady was finally feeling good. His arm felt great and he was pitching well for Clemson as one of its Friday starter.

Playing against Georgia Tech, the redshirt junior right-hander was making a routine play covering first on a ground ball. Something didn’t feel right in his left hamstring. Turns out he pulled it.

It was a late-April injury that sidelined him nearly a month and added to the belief from scouts that despite his stuff being good, he was injury prone. First it was a forearm strain as a sophomore with the Tigers and now the hamstring.

But Brady, who joined the Williamsport Crosscutters on Friday after a pair of outings in the Gulf Coast League, said the injuries were eventually going to benefit him. No, he didn’t have a Wolverine-type procedure to replace the injured parts with Adamantium to make him an indestructible force. Instead he learned how to deal with adversity. And he’s well aware that the path he’s embarking on as a professional baseball player is going to be full of adversity.

“The minors is a long road, and if you can’t deal with adversity, it’s going to make it really tough,” Brady said, standing just outside the Crosscutters’ clubhouse Friday. “It’s only going to make me stronger as a person and a player.”

There never seemed to be a question about Brady’s stuff. His fastball sits in the low 90s and will run up around 95 at times. His secondary pitches – and change-up and breaking ball – while still works in progress, have the chance to be above average pitches, according to a draft day scouting report from Baseball America.

Brady was drafted two other times before the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the 10th round in June’s First-Year Player Draft. He signed for the recommended slot bonus of $125,000, passing up his final year of eligibility with Clemson. He was also drafted out of Gaithersburg High School in the 44th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2008. In 2011 he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 17th round but chose to stay in school.

Despite missing nearly a month with the hamstring strain, Brady compiled a 1-3 record and a 2.54 ERA in 14 appearances (11 starts). He struck out 62 in 63 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .235 batting average.

“I just feel like I put everything in I could at Clemson, and I had a great talk with my coaches about it before I left,” Brady said. “We were all on kind of the same page and they were all kind of ready for me to get started with my professional career. Clemson was another step to get me where I wanted to go.”

And where Brady wants to go is to the big leagues. How he gets there doesn’t necessarily matter. Sure, he’d like to be a starting pitcher, it’s what he did for the majority of his senior season at Clemson and it’s what he’s comfortable with.

But the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has also shown an ability to do both. In his two outings with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, he was both a starter and a reliever. In his first appearance he allowed one run – on a solo home run – in 1 2/3 innings. His second appearance was a two-inning relief outing in which he allowed one unearned run.

He hadn’t been informed of what his role with the Cutters would be when he spoke after batting practice Friday. In all honesty, though, he didn’t seem to care as long as he got the chance to pitch.

“Whatever they need me to do, that’s what I’m going to do,” Brady said. “I came into college as a starter, I worked a lot out of the pen, and when I came back for my senior year I started. I think it’s helped me out a lot because I can bounce back and forth. I’ll just go as long as they let me.”

FITTING IN: Luis Gonzalez appears to like his new role in the Williamsport Crosscutters’ starting rotation. Although he took the loss in Thursday’s game against Tri-City, Gonzalez had another strong outing since taking over a spot in the rotation from Jon Musser, who was struggling with his command.

Since becoming a starter, Gonzalez has an ERA of 2.79. Thursday, he lasted just 4 2/3 innings after having just one inning where he threw less than 15 pitches in an inning.

“It’s frustrating because we want him to get through the fifth,” Cutters manager Andy Tracy said following Thursday’s game. “But I just couldn’t leave him out there anymore. With 4 2/3 innings and 85 pitches, your hands are kind of locked up. I want to keep him out there, but you have to put hitters away when you have the chance.”

But Gonzalez has provided some stability to a rotation that was struggling to get through even four or five innings for much of the first couple weeks of the season. He’s walked seven batters in his 22 innings this year, but has struck out three times as many.

The left-hander from Esperanza, Dominican Republic, left Thursday’s game with just a 2-0 deficit before Tri-City blew open the game against the bullpen. But from all indication, the Cutters’ coaching staff likes what they see from Gonzalez on a day-in, day-out basis.

“His stuff is good,” Tracy said. “He just has to trust it.”

MOVING ON UP: Along with adding Kevin Brady to the roster Friday, the Crosscutters also added right-hander Chris Nichols. The 21-year old was a 31st-round draft pick out of the University of Sioux Falls this year.

He began his season in the Gulf Coast League where he appeared in seven games, throwing 11 innings and allowing 10 hits and five earned runs. He struck out nine and walked just one.

 
 

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