Relief pitchers can be some of the most forgettable names on a Major League roster. They are constantly being called up, sent down and designated for assignment. For players drafted in the 42nd round, the chance to be called up even once is a downright impossible dream. Brad Brach has beaten the odds to not only make it to the bigs, but stick on a playoff-contending roster.
Name: Brad Brach Number: 35
Born: April 12, 1986 (28 years old) in Freehold, NJ
Height: 6'6" Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Drafted: by the San Diego Padres in the 42nd round of the 2008 draft
School: Freehold Township High School (Freehold, NJ)
Monmouth University (West Long Branch, NJ)
Contract: $509,500 in 2014 (Arbitration Eligible: 2016, Free Agent: 2019)
Became an Oriole: Traded on November 25, 2013 by the Padres to the Orioles in exchange for minor league pitcher Devin Jones
Freehold, NJ is about an hour away from the Big Apple. So Brad was raised as a big New York Mets fan. Unfortunately, the Mets kinda stunk when he was a kid (believe me, I understand you, Brad). So, in addition to his squad, he decided to root for the team that would beat the Yankees. If we travel back to the early and mid 90s, that team was the Baltimore Orioles.
Brach followed the everyday movement of the O's and became a huge Cal Ripken Jr. fan. If you sweep through his twitter feed you can find a picture of him and his family at Camden Yards and one of him, horizontally, wearing a Ripken jersey.
"(Ripken) played hard every single day and was someone I aspired to be like," Brach told Padres360.com last year. "He was an All-Star when I was growing up and was out there every single day.
A World Without Baseball
Brach told MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli that if he weren't fortunate enough to be a big leaguer that he would likely become a teacher. He has a degree from Monmouth University in history education. He would like to get a position at a high school so that he could teach and coach both basketball and baseball.
He was named second-team all district in basketball as a high school student. And his profile on the Monmouth University sports page informed us that he amassed 147 rebounds and 86 three-point field goals. I have no clue how good that is but the dude is 6'6" so I'm sure he can play some b-ball.
The Brach family is pretty into this whole baseball thing. While we all know by now that Brad is major league reliever, it is also of note that his little brother, Brett is a professional baseball player too, kind of.
The younger Brach was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 10th round of the 2009 draft after he attended Monmouth like his brother. Unfortunately, things haven't gone quite as well for Brett. He has been out of affiliated ball since July 10 when he pitched for the Nationals double-A team, Harrisburg, against the Baysox.
The two crossed paths once this season. Brad was down with Norfolk when Brett's Columbus Clippers (Indians affiliate) came into town. The teams split the series and Brett never made an appearance. Brad threw 1.2 innings and gave up three runs.
In the offseason, Brach does not return to his childhood home of New Jersey. Nor does he head to Arizona, where his parents now live. He goes to the homeland of country music, Nashville.
This is where he owns a house with his wife, Jenae Cherry. The couple met there in August of 2011 when Brad was in Tennessee with the Triple-A Tucson Padres to play the Nashville Sounds. He went out to a little bar where Cherry was strumming her acoustic guitar and crooning to the country tunes. He asked her out to lunch and the rest is history.
At one time, Cherry thought she wanted to become a nurse but after one year of school at Northern Illinois University traded her stethoscope for a guitar; a pink guitar. She plays five nights a week in Nashville and Brad is there every night he can be in the off-season. If you want to learn more about Jenae and her music, which I know you do, check out her website.
There is a piece by MLB.com's Corey Brock that is a good introduction to the couple. But if ya don't want to, here is the synopsis: They inspire one another, they have a dog; a Dachshund/Lab mix named Belle, and they put up a pink tree at Christmas time.
-Favorite food: Pizza or ice cream
-Favorite movie: Remember the Titans
-Brad has made his own CD. He recorded a rap with two of his friends growing up but he is apparently not very fond of it. He will let his wife be the musically inclined one in the house.
-Prized possession: His wife's first album (what a nice guy!)
-He shares his birthday with Brennan Boesch, Justin Ruggiano and Hisashi Iwakuma
-Brach attended the same high school as Val Majewski. Remember him? In 2004 he played in nine games with the Orioles and batted .154. At one point, he was the O's fourth best prospect, according the Baseball America. An injury in 2005 derailed his career.
-Brach made his Major League debut as a Padre on August 31, 2011 as a 25 year old against he Dodgers. He threw one and on-third inning, striking out three and giving up two hits and one walk but no runs. Current Oriole Nick Hundley also made an appearance in that game as a pinch hitter for San Diego
Very little could have been expected from Brach when he was traded for back in November. He had struggled to stick with San Diego, a team that plays in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game. A switch to the bandbox that is Camden Yards seemed insurmountable.
However, his immediate excitement about the move was encouraging. He went right to Twitter to explain how enthralled he was with the chance to be an Oriole and his performance has made fans just as excited to have him. In his last 10 appearances he has allowed two hits, four walks and no runs while striking out 14.
He is a bullpen arm. One who is lights out today, may be gone tomorrow, but he seems like one of the good guys in the game and I'm happy to have him.