By Trey McCurry.
With school recently starting back and the baseball team back on campus, TheClemsonInsider is once again cranking up the baseball coverage with weekly features on the upperclassmen of the Tiger baseball team. In the second installment of this series, TCI caught up with power right-hander Kevin Brady.
The Gaithersburg, MD native was off to a stellar start in 2011 before an injury shut him down for the vast majority of the year (missed over 40 games). In his limited time, he still made 10 appearances (three starts) and was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA. In 23.1 innings pitched, he allowed only 19 hits (.218 opponents’ batting average) and one walk against 33 strikeouts.
“We didn’t start out great during those first 25 or so games, but then we hit that 30-game schedule where we just turned everything on,” said #19. “We were playing good, and then things just unwound after we won those first two games of the regional. Overall, it was a good season with the turnaround. I feel like a lot of people stepped up last year and made them more known to Clemson baseball. It wasn’t how we wanted to end and we can definitely improve this year.”
Brady’s first three outings in 2011 showed just how good he could be for the Tigers. In his first start of the year against Eastern Michigan, he earned the win allowing just two hits, one run, and a walk against 10 strikeouts in only 5.1 innings. The next weekend, against Michigan State in Greenville, he was earned his second win as he allowed four hits and no walks with nine strikeouts in 7.0 innings.
Brady was on his way to yet another solid start against #4 South Carolina when he suffered a forearm muscle strain during his warm-up pitches prior to the fifth inning. In 4.0 innings against the Gamecocks, he had allowed one run on three hits and already had four strikeouts.
“The injury was tough,” said Brady. “It definitely wasn’t what I had planned. I felt like I had a couple of good starts under my belt and then the injury came. It was pretty stressful on me, but I didn’t want the team to get that feeling and wanted them to stay focuses. Overall, it was good for me to go through. In the game of baseball, you won’t be healthy every day and you will miss some periods of time. And last year taught me how to deal with that adversity.”
Brady made his return to the mound 71 days later against Davidson where he pitched a perfect inning in relief. He made six more relief appearances the remainder of the season as he was still trying to get his arm back into shape.
Following the season and despite the missed time, the Cleveland Indians selected the right-hander with the 518th pick in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
“I went up to the Cape to play and the Indians had planned to come watch. If they liked what they saw, I was set to sign and that would have been good. But I am really happy to be back here. I would have been happy either way, but I am really excited to be back at Clemson for my senior year.”
The Tigers are also grateful to have #19 back in uniform for another season. In 71.1 innings pitched over 36 career appearances (eight starts), he has allowed just 14 walks against 86 strikeouts, good for a 6.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 10.85 strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched mark. Given another season, expect to season Brady’s name pop up in the Tiger recordbooks (pitchers must have 100 innings pitched to qualify). Given enough innings, his current strikeout-to-walk ratio would rank first in history and his strikeouts-per-nine would rank third. Brady’s 1.77 walks-per-nine-innings mark would also be the second-best in school history.
Now back in school and gearing up for fall ball, Brady is anxious for the 2012 season where he expected to be the ace of the pitching staff.
“We have a lot of good returners, and we also have a lot of good freshman coming in, so we will have yet another good team this year. We just have to continue to go out there and keep playing like we know we can play.”