Brady's striking pro debut brings a lot of hope for his future
The Indians need starting pitching.
While the front office focuses in on arms this offseason to bring in via free agency or trade to fill that starting pitching need at the major league level, they have also placed a stronger focus on developing it from within by adjusting their philosophy with how they develop pitchers and the programs they use.
One thing has not changed, and that is the Indians continue to focus on picking up young, upside arms from the draft to add to the starting pitching mix in the minors. One such new arm added to the mix this season is left-hander Sean Brady.
Brady, 19, was selected in the fifth round of the draft this past June. He is a smaller, more compact sized lefty at 6-feet and around 180 pounds, but he has a solid three pitch mix with three average to above average pitches in his fastball, curveball and changeup. He reminds some of a young T.J. House when he came into the Indians organization as a high upside high school lefty out of the 2008 Draft.
With the new signing rules in place, Brady and the Indians were able to reach a deal rather quickly as they verbally agreed to a number on draft day and he later signed his contract and kicked off his career the first week of July at rookie level Arizona. He ended up making 10 starts there and impressed going 0-1 with a 1.97 ERA, and in 32.0 innings he allowed 24 hits, 2 home runs, 6 walks and had 30 strikeouts. He carried that over into a stellar showing in Instructional League.
The Arizona Summer League is a league dominated by offense, largely because pitchers have problems throwing strikes consistently. But for Brady, this was no problem for him and why he stood out. Anytime you put up a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio and 1.7 BB/9 in your pro debut straight out of high school, people take notice.
“[I’m confident] in my ability to throw strikes,” Brady said in a recent interview with the IBI. “I definitely think that what sets me apart is I can throw any pitch I want in any count for a strike. Really, that is the reason I think I got drafted was because I am able to throw strikes. I keep my delivery the same and throw strikes when I want to.”
Brady is a baseball-aholic. He is constantly thinking about it and working to be better at it. Whether he is in Arizona at the Indians complex in Goodyear working out, throwing and developing his mechanics and pitches, or he is back home in Florida visiting his old high school to throw, lift weights and talk to his old coach, he is involved in the game 24/7 to try and become the best that he can be.
“Even though I do feel like I am good at throwing strikes, I want to get even better,” Brady said. “I want to be able to gain strength and maybe some velocity too. I have never been a guy who threw hard. I have never been that guy, even in Little League, so since I was little I have always just thrown strikes and let the hitters get themselves out. In-out, up-down, curveball for strike, changeup for strike and mix the hitter’s eye level. Everything.”
Brady’s fastball often clocks around 90 MPH, but he has been up to 93 MPH in the past. His curveball is ahead of his changeup at the moment and is the secondary offering he has more confidence in at the moment – though he is making strides with the changeup.
“Coming in I was definitely most confident in my curveball,” Brady said. “My changeup is really starting to come around and I am starting to get a feel for it and starting to be able to throw it for a strike. My curveball is still ahead of that and I would rather throw it, but my changeup is starting to come around.”
Prior to being drafted and signed by the Indians, Brady went through a tough junior season in high school. His numbers and performance were not up to his standards and he wondered if he would even be considered in the draft, so he worked very hard his senior season, had a good year, and showed big strides in his stuff and ability that excited scouts for just about every major league organization.
“It never really entered my mind as I was set to go to college,” Brady said about the draft. “I wasn’t really expecting to do anything. My junior year was the worst season I had. I told myself I was going to work my tail off in the offseason to try and get that bump in velocity and try to be a draft guy. Lucky I was able to get that jump and be a draft guy.”
Brady had a commitment to attend and play baseball at the University of Florida. It was a pretty strong commitment which is why the Indians had to really go above and beyond with the signing bonus to sign him.
“We had some inklings of going the first day,” Brady recalled about the draft. “When that first day came to a close my agent told me I was going to be a second day guy. The Indians area scout had called my agent and said they were thinking of taking me in a couple of picks. It was two picks before and my agent said it has to be this and they said okay, and then two picks later they ended up calling my name. We were able to get the money I wanted and we were ready to go.”
With the business side of the draft process over, Brady set out to begin his journey to the major leagues. A journey and process in the minor leagues that he probably did not fully understand going in and probably still doesn’t today. But while he came into Arizona with a lot of unknowns about professional baseball, he left it a few months later with a better understanding of what it will take to move through the minors and reach his dream of becoming a major league pitcher.
“Coming out here [to Arizona] you really don’t know what to expect,” Brady said. “Everyone tells you it is going to be the toughest time of your life, so you come in with a tough mindset and you just work your tail off and luckily you have a good season. [My first season] was more fun than I had expected. With nobody in the stands it is hard to get yourself going, but it is still baseball as you have to get yourself going. It is your first pro season so you are excited to get out there and excited to throw.”
For a period of about three months from the beginning of July through the middle of October, Brady was not just adjusting to professional baseball but also to the responsibilities of being on his own for the first time. His family threw him a big going away party shortly before his departure to Arizona.
“It was a great time and I had to leave and move on,” Brady said.
Brady has certainly moved on. He’s getting set to start his throwing program in preparation for the upcoming season and is set to make his mark as one of the Indians top young pitching prospects and perhaps make it to Cleveland someday soon.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.