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Tuesday, September 01, 2009Rex Brothers has been a Dust Devil and a Tourist so far this season and there are probably a couple of more uniforms he will wear as the makes what appears to be a steady climb to a spot on the Colorado Rockies roster.
Brothers, a left-hander from Chapel Hill, Tenn., starred on the mound for three seasons for the Lipscomb Bisons. He was drafted 34th in the first round of the First Year Major League Player Draft in June and decided to forgo his final season of college eligibility.
With stops with the Tri-City Dust Devils in the rookie level Northwest League and the Asheville Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League. He has discovered that life in the low minors isn’t as horrible as many stories might indicate.
“Getting back to the East Coast has been good,” said Brothers who started his pro career in Pasco, Wash., with the Dust Devils. “What a lot of people don’t know about the Tri-Cities area is that it is a desert. They only get about seven inches of rain each year.
“The bus rides haven’t been that bad. I think 4 ½ or five hours is the longest trip I have made. You can eat fast food or go to restaurant. And if you want fruit or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich it is usually on the spread in the clubhouse. Some people need more, but that is all I need. It has all been good.”
The Rockies have turned Brothers into a reliever, a role he worked on in two summers in the Cape Cod League. He has worked in seven games for the Tourists. In nine innings he has struck out seven batters, scattered five hits and allowed three runs, all earned.
He pitched Tuesday night against the Lexington Legends, giving up one run in a 3-1 loss for Asheville.
“We are giving him clean innings so he is not coming in with men on base to start with,” said Asheville pitching coach Dave Schuler. “We are trying to give him a taste of what it is like. He has a lot of innings under his belt already so we are trying to protect him a little bit.
“His stuff is so good that he has been over-matching most of the hitters he has faced here. When you look at the total package he has stuff, he has command on both sides of the plate and he has deception. He is having a good time of it. The sky is the limit.”
Schuler is working on two areas of the game with Brothers _ a change-up and his pick-off move to first base.
“He will probably go up quite rapidly,” said Schuler. “His stuff will be able to handle the next level. He just has to work on his pick-off move and his change-up.
“As a left-handed pitcher he is going to face six or seven right-handed batters most of the time. This league is an exception because it is loaded with lefties. The change-up will be a big pitch for him. He has picked it up quickly and is using it in games. It is coming in at about 85 or 84 miles per hour which is perfect for him.”
Schuler likes the mindset that he has seen in Brothers as he goes about his work. He credits the coaches that Brothers has worked with in the past for giving him a special mental edge.
Even if he doesn’t pitch he still spends much of each day working on his pitching with workouts ranging from the field to the gym.
“He is smart,” said Schuler. “He is a quick learner. He is a pleasure to coach.
“He has what we call the knack which is the ability to not only grasp what you are being taught, but to be able to be one step ahead in his thinking. His ability to process things is very good. He is always thinking about other areas related to what I am teaching him, like the pick move to first base. He is really ahead of the game.”
Brothers is confident that he can get batters out on a consistent basis. He likes the progress he has made with his changeup.
“I’m enjoying going out there as a reliever and trying to put my best stuff on the line at the moment instead of trying to preserve it for late in the game,” said Brothers. “The strike zone is what I am worrying about. Working clean innings has been the plan since I started out at Tri-City. I want to get in there and get in some messes to give me the experience that I need.”
Brothers has been forced to quickly adjust to new teammates on two different teams. Two of his teammates with the Tourists, pitcher Stephen Dodson and infielder Ryan Peisel, were on the Georgia team the Bisons beat in the first game of the NCAA Tournament in 2008.
“The jumping around is part of minor league baseball,” said Brothers. “It is neat to play with guys that you played against in the past. There are a lot of good guys. It isn’t as bad as you would think.”