Junior Colleges

Gulf Coast baseball star ‘had to prove people wrong.’ He’s now an MLB Draft pick.

Brandon Parker’s baseball career has gone from a tough-luck stint in high school to an opportunity at the big leagues.

After enduring numerous injuries at West Harrison High School, Parker fulfilled his potential at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to earn a Tuesday night selection in the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves.

The slugging outfielder’s selection in the 10th round follows a stint at MGCCC where he became one of the best right-handed bats in all of junior college baseball. In two years, he set the Gulf Coast single-season mark with 23 home runs, hit 37 homers total and knocked in 149 RBIs.

“It’s not really about the things that happen to you,” Parker said on Wednesday. “It’s about how you react when things happen to you. It means everything to bounce from the injuries. There were a lot of people that didn’t believe in me. I had to grind my butt off to get where I am. I had to prove people wrong, give myself a name and take it from there.”

Parker got some good information as to where he might land in the draft and his agent called him about 10 minutes prior to his selection to let him know he could expect a ring from the Braves.

“They wanted to get a verbal agreement that I wanted to be an Atlanta Brave,’” Parker said. “(Top Braves scout) Smoke Laval called and asked if I wanted to be a Brave. I was pumped.

“My parents are probably more excited about it than I am. My little brother (Tate) is excited for me. They’re all pumped. I’m thankful.”

What makes the selection all the more sweet is the fact that Parker grew up a Braves fan.

“Awe man, it’s awesome,” he said. “That was the team I’ve always rooted for since I was little. The Mississippi Braves are in (Pearl) and I used to go to games when I was little. When I think of baseball, I think of the Braves.”

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Parker proved he could hit at a high level as a freshman at MGCCC with a .424 batting average, but he worked harder to have a more refined game during his sophomore season.

“I really got better on the base paths,” he said. “I knew I wanted to make a push to steal more bases. The pitching was more difficult because I didn’t see that much to hit. I just had to control the things I could control. I tried to get my arm a lot better and I worked on my speed. I did my best to focus on the mental part of the game.”

After stealing two bases as a freshman, Parker had 12 as a sophomore.

Parker signed in November with Dallas Baptist, but he has decided to go forgo his final two years of college eligibility to give the pros a try.

The only downside of that decision is that he won’t have a chance to play alongside his brother, Tate, who has also signed with Dallas Baptist following an outstanding career at West Harrison.

“Yeah, it is tough,” Brandon said. “Really, it’s a win, win situation for me. You either go to Dallas Baptist and play with your little brother for a great program, or I go play for the Atlanta Braves. I can’t complain. It’s tough not being there with him because I was really looking forward to it.”

Parker will soon fly to Atlanta, join his family in a suite for a game at SunTrust Park and then sign with the Braves. Not long after, he will likely head to the Braves’ spring training facility in Kissimmee, Florida.

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.