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Tuesday, June 09, 2009It was easily the longest 15 minutes of Rex Brothers’ young life.
Surrounded by approximately 100 family members, friends and fans at his family’s home in Chapel Hill, Tenn., Brothers, who struck out a school record 132 batters this season for the Lipscomb Bisons, watched as his hopes to be a first round draft pick Tuesday night in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft end with the completion of 32 picks.
The next stage of the draft was the Supplemental portion which was scheduled after a 15-minute break. Television coverage had ended, but many fans crowded around laptops to see what would happen next.
Brothers started fielding telephone calls from teams making money offers for his selection later in the draft, but the Colorado Rockies called and congratulated him on being the No. 34 pick in the draft, the second player claimed in the Supplemental round.
“It was unbelievable,” said Brothers. “It was everything that I hoped it would be. There is no way to explain it.
“When my name was called a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Everybody was getting a little tense because they were wondering when it was going to happen. It was a great feeling.”
A surprising aspect of the pick is that Bo McLaughlin, a first round pick by the Houston Astros out of Lipscomb in the 1975 draft, is the Major League pitching coordinator for the Rockies.
“I want to meet Bo McLaughlin,” said Brothers. “I really didn’t have that big of a contact with the Rockies. I don’t care if I wasn’t at the top of the draft. I am excited about what happened.”
Ironically, Brothers had little contact with the Rockies, compared to many other teams. Many of the mock drafts had predicted that Brothers would be selected 19th by the St, Louis Cardinals. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians were also in the mix. On Monday he was in Detroit pitching for the Tigers. A couple of mock drafts did indicate that the Rockies might be interested in Brothers, a left-hander with a 95 miles per hour fastball and 86 miles per hour slider.
“I didn’t expect to have to wait that long based on what I was hearing from other people, but I really didn’t know,” said Brothers. “People don’t know what the teams are going to do. Only the teams know.
“I wouldn’t say that I was upset. I let myself into the trap of expecting something. That is something everybody told me not to do. I think I was picked in the right spot. I was picked there for a reason. I can’t wait to find out what that reason was for.”
As Tuesday progressed Brothers felt the minutes move slower and slower. There were preparations to be made for visitors who chowed down on barbecue, catfish, hush puppies and slaw while waiting for Brothers’ name to be called.
“I started checking my watch a little bit more and checking my phone a little bit more,” said Brothers. “A lot of teams called me during the day to wish me luck and to say they enjoyed watching me play.”
During the 15-minute break the Texas Rangers and New York Mets were on the line.
Lipscomb baseball coach Jeff Forehand thinks the selection of Brothers as one of the top 34 players in the draft will be a boost for the program.
"I think in the long run it is going to mean a lot,” said Forehand. “I think it is going to show kids that if they come to a smaller school they will be on the mound early. They will pitch for three straight years and if they improve Major League teams are going to find them.
“You can go to a smaller school, progress and get the same results at the end of the day in the professional ranks. What ultimately gets you selected when it comes to the professional game is the chance to pitch everyday. As we go forward from here Rex has set the bar high. Hopefully, we will have more of them in the years to come.”
Brothers didn’t talk about the draft with Forehand or his teammates during the season.
“I didn’t believe it,” said Brothers. “I didn’t really believe it was going to happen until the draft started.
“We didn’t bring it up. We didn’t hint about it. The coaches would kind of give me a smirk or a nod when they had heard something from a scout.”
Brothers admits it is hard to say good-bye to his friends at Lipscomb. He does plan to return to school to finish his degree in business.
“It is tough to leave school, but I have made a lot of memories playing for Lipscomb,” said Brothers. “This is a career milestone for me.”