Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007

Baseball: Brady chooses Clemson

Gaithersburg High pitcher to play for Tigers, if he doesn’t turn pro

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Throughout the busy recruiting process, Gaithersburg High senior Kevin Brady kept his options open and considered all the possibilities of where to continue his baseball career. But always in the back of his mind lingered shades of orange and purple.

Those images were planted during a pre-teen visit to the University of Clemson with his older brother Matt Brady, a former All-Gazette and Montgomery College-Germantown catcher, who was attending a baseball camp at the South Carolina college.

Ever since, Kevin, a flame-throwing, right-handed pitcher, dreamed of joining the school’s nationally ranked baseball program and this week, he’ll officially sign on the dotted line to do just that, choosing Clemson over Maryland and Louisiana State, among others.

‘‘I was only 8 or 9 but I remember liking it,” said Brady, the 2007 Gazette high-school Player of the Year. ‘‘It’s a great place. It’s a great community. The coaches are really enthusiastic and the facilities are really nice. Everybody [on the street] says hello. It’s a nice college town and they have a great alumni program.

‘‘I’ve always wanted to go to Clemson and the school has a really good reputation for getting to the [College] World Series in Omaha.”

Brady has already verbally committed and will sign a National Letter of Intent during a school ceremony this week.

‘‘I’m very proud of Kevin,” Gaithersburg baseball coach Jason Woodward said. ‘‘He fell in love with the campus and it’s been one of his goals since probably the sixth grade. He’s worked hard to achieve that goal.”

The only thing that could change Brady’s plans now would be for his name to be called early during the June Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He has already been contacted by the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies and the World Champion Boston Red Sox.

That professional interest gathered much of its steam last summer when Brady pitched at the Florida-based East Coast Professional Showcase. Bob Mayer, the Cleveland Indians’ regional supervisor in charge of most of the East Coast, invited Brady to the prestigious tournament. He struck out five and allowed a hit in three innings of work.

Of the 150 players who competed in the 2006 East Coast Professional Showcase, 106 were drafted, including several in the first two rounds

‘‘It all depends on the round and the money,” Brady said. ‘‘It really depends. I don’t want to say I’m going if I’m drafted or no I’m going to hold off. My family and I have will have to talk about it.”

Brady dominated on the mound last spring and summer for the Gaithersburg High and Gaithersburg Post 104 American Legion baseball teams. Last spring, Brady compiled a 9-0 record with a miniscule 0.84 earned-run average and 112 strikeouts for the Trojans.

He continued that performance during the summer, compiling a 6-2 record with a 1.56 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 58 1⁄3 innings of work for Post 104. Brady won Post 104’s lone state tournament win, shutting out Garrett County Post 71⁄214 for seven innings, allowing two hits with 10 strikeouts in the 5-0 victory.

Brady also dazzled scouts and coaches alike in June while playing for Team Maryland at the 31st Annual Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma. He had a complete-game victory with seven strikeouts against Team California and earned a save in the team’s 5-3 win over Ohio as well.

‘‘He’s developed a nice curveball and change-up, which make him all the more dangerous when he’s on the mound,” Woodward said. ‘‘But what the pros are looking at are his fastball, his arm slot and how quick he gets rid of the ball.”

Brady, whose fastball has topped out at 94 miles per hour, is a prize recruit for 14-year Clemson coach Jack Leggett. But at a program of that stature there is always competition for playing time.

‘‘I’ll have to fight and show what I can do,” said Brady. ‘‘It will be a battle to get a starting spot or [as a] reliever-closer. I want to be a starter, but I’ll do anything to get playing time.”