Had Wednesday night’s call not taken place, Cody Brown was prepared to register for his final classes and prep to become a physical therapist.
While P.T. school may still be in Brown’s future, it will have to wait — he still has ball to play after all.
Brown tweeted Wednesday that although he was passed over in the 2017 MLB Draft he had been handed a baseball lifeline; the now former Mississippi State Bulldog leaves Friday to sign a contract with the New York Yankees.
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“It was definitely tough. Every guy who plays in college is waiting to hear their name called. I was just sitting by the phone and watching the draft online. I was just on the couch wondering if my name would ever be called. I was trying not to get my hopes up too much but still holding out hope that an organization would like my talents enough to draft me,” Brown told the Sun Herald on Thursday. “Sitting there the whole day and then going from not getting drafted to a scout picking up the phone and calling me two hours after was definitely emotional; going zero to 100.
“You can only imagine what it’s like being told you’re going to go play for a team like the Yankees. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest I was so excited.”
After all 40 rounds of the draft were completed Wednesday, the former Biloxi Indian’s phone buzzed.
“Coach (Andy) Cannizaro shot me a text after saying he was going to do everything he can and things kind of got rolling from there. I was waiting by the phone to see what was going on,” Brown recalled.
It wasn’t too long after that when Brown’s phone started buzzing with a FaceTime invitation. Cannizaro, a former Yankees scout, had called in a few favors and had good news. He wanted to see Brown’s face when he told his senior he was getting his shot.
“You can imagine my elation at the news of hearing that, being able to play at the next level and especially for an organization like the Yankees,” Brown said. “I was fired up.”
Heading into the draft, which was spread over three days, Brown was hopeful his senior season impressed at least one organization enough to call his name. Brown started at first, second and third base and also played in the outfield for the Bulldogs, all while posting a career year with a .323 batting average, nine homers, 42 RBIs, .433 on-base percentage, .539 slugging percentage and 10 stolen bases. He played his best ball — perhaps of his collegiate career — in the Hattiesburg Regional, when he was named the Most Outstanding Player after going 10-for-19 in five games with two home runs and seven RBIs.
“I thought it was a great ending to my senior year,” Brown said. “You always want to get hot at the end and I felt like I was playing my best baseball the last three or four weeks of the season. I was seeing the ball really well and playing my best defense.”
Brown called Cannizaro a “hitting guru,” crediting the new Bulldog skipper for his offensive outburst as a senior. He also thanked him at length for prolonging his baseball career.
“He’s going to do everything he can for his guys. He was really an influential part of the process, getting my name out there and allowing me to have a chance to play,” Brown said. “He made it clear he’s going to take care of us and that’s what he did. I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity.”
“He was really working for me and it ended up paying off.”
Next stop: Tampa
Leading up to the draft, Brown had contemplated life without baseball.
“If that was going to be the end of baseball for me, I would have definitely gotten started on some classes. The ultimate goal for after baseball is to be a physical therapist; go to P.T. school and things like that,” he said. “I have to finish up a few classes here and there but I guess I’ll be doing that in the offseason now.”
Brown packed up his belongings in Starkville on Thursday and headed home to the Coast. He’ll fly to Tampa on Friday to officially sign with the Yankees and begin his ascension through professional baseball.
Brown understands he’ll be competing against players with seven-figure signing bonuses from here on out, but he’s up to the challenge.
“I trust my abilities, my skill set, my skill level. Everything I’ve worked for up to this point has been earned,” he said. “I’m planning on going out there and earning greatness every single day, working on my craft and skill every single day and getting better and just proving my talents to that organization. Make a name for myself is what I’m trying to do. I feel like any opportunity I had I was going to do that, whether it’s signing first round or signing as a free agent. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just happy for the opportunity.
“The Yankees organization definitely gave that to me and I’m going to make the most of it.”