Baseball – Freehold Twp., Monmouth Alum Brach Heading to the All-Star Game
The current conception of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft includes 40 rounds of picks. In that world, Baltimore Orioles reliever Brad Brach would have never got the call from a Major League organization.
Back in 2008 though, the extra rounds made all the difference and Brach eventually got a call from the San Diego Padres, who selected him out of Monmouth University in the 42nd round in June that year.
Tuesday evening, Brach got a different sort of call – eight years after being selected in the 42nd round out of Monmouth, the Freehold Township alum found out he is a 2016 American League All-Star. Brach will return to Petco Park in San Diego for the game on Tuesday, July 12, less than three years after his original club traded him to Baltimore.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told The Baltimore Sun he called Brach’s wife, Jenae, and told her the news so she could break it to her husband.
“I know if I’m managing the game, I would want Brad down there,” Showalter told the Sun. “He’s had a very deserving All-Star [resume].”
Brach was one of five Orioles and one of nine relief pitchers selected to play on the American League squad, which won last year’s Mid-Summer Classic and earned home-field advantage in the World Series to the eventual World Champion Kansas City Royals. Kansas City manager Ned Yost will manage the A.L. All-Stars for the second straight year and is in charge of selecting the reserves for the team, a group of which Brach is a part.
“He’s had a great year,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters – also selected as an All-Star reserve – told the Sun of Brach. “I think his numbers are as good as anybody’s out there. We’re all happy for him. It’s tough to do, for a non-closer to make it. It really speaks to how good of a year he’s having.”
The focus on winning the game and the movement toward bullpen specialization had a lot to do with Brach’s selection, as the right-hander acknowledged.
“It’s awesome,” Brach told the Baltimore Sun. “It kind of shows the evolution of the way the game is right now. It’s not all about closers. There’s a lot of innings pitched in between…I think it recognizes the middle innings are huge for games.”
With Kansas City’s emphasis on relief pitching and Yost’s subsequent desire in each of the last two years to stack his All-Star rosters with pitchers comfortable pitching in bullpen roles, Brach made a compelling case to be selected this season. He has logged 45 2/3 innings over 37 appearances, pitching to a 0.99 ERA and striking out 53 while walking 13. Opponents are hitting just .199 off Brach and he has also picked up five wins and a save while suffering only one loss.
After learning of his All-Star selection, Brach struck out the side in order in the eighth inning Tuesday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Orioles won the game, 4-1.
Brach graduated from Freehold Township in 2004 and played four seasons at Monmouth, where he set a single-season record for strikeouts. After making his Big League debut with the Padres in 2011, he was later traded to the Orioles in prior to the 2014 season.
Brach is the first ever Monmouth University product to be selected to the Major League All-Star Game.