Although Bradley Central’s Cole Brand had expectations of going much higher, the fireballing right-hander was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 42nd round.
Brand joins former Bear teammate Ryan Casteel (Colorado), former Walker Valley and Memphis standout Ryan Fraser (N.Y. Mets), Lee shortstop Jose Cuevas (San Francisco) and former Cleveland State hurler Stephen Pryor (Seattle), who were taken during Tuesday’s rounds.
A half-dozen other players with local ties were also mentioned as draft possibilities but didn’t get the nod. Lee University flame-throwers Adam Everett, Scott Swinson and Nolan Rudman, along with outfielder J.J Costantino and third baseman Tanner Moore and Cleveland State first baseman Cody Hooper, can now sign free agent deals with any of the 30 major league clubs.
In 2009 only one local player, Lee’s Jeff Ibarra, was taken in the Major League draft, but two others, Flame shortstop Brian Bistange and power-hitting outfielder Julian Alvarez, signed free agent contracts with the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres respectively. Ibarra, a 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher, was chosen by the Padres in the 23rd round.
Two other Lee standouts, first baseman Chris Warters and pitcher Pablo Lopez, signed contracts to play in the Independent League.
Brand went 18-4 the past two season for Bradley Central and paired his 90-plus mile per hour fastball with a good curve to strikeout 211 batters, including tying a county record with 19 in a game against McMinn County this season.
He also lowered his earned run average from 2.16 his junior year with 1.20 this past season.
Brand said this morning he is excited about being taken by the Cardinals, an organization that has a strong reputation for player development.
“They have one guy who is in charge of who they draft and also oversees the player development to try to move guys to the ‘bigs’ (major league level) as soon as possible,” Brand related.
Although he is still in contract negotiations and doesn’t know where he would go play to begin his career, “They (St. Louis) have Rookie League teams in Florida and Elizabethton,” Brand explained.
“We are still talking numbers and have exchanged a coupe of offers back and forth,” he added. “I’m keeping all of my options open.”
Brand signed a NCAA Division I scholarship offer from Clemson University last fall, but if he goes to the South Carolina school he won’t be eligible for another Major League draft for three years. He is also contemplating shunning both the pros and Clemson to play junior college ball for a year to improve his draft status.
“I thought I’d go a lot higher in the draft. I was told I’d go in the top 10 rounds, so something went wrong,” Brand said of not getting picked until the 42nd round. “I called the Cardinals to thank them for selecting me and also to try to find out what went wrong. It may have been questions about signability.”
“Something went seriously wrong, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to figure out what real soon,” he added. “I think there’s a good chance I’m going to be playing pro ball this summer. Right now we're not that far from a good deal.”
Brand is leaving the negotiations in the hands of Darren Heitner, his advisor from Dynasty Reps.