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Monday, May 16, 2011As we approach the dog days of summer, three former Lipscomb baseball players are having outstanding seasons at the professional level.
In the coming days, Lipscombsports.com will highlight the three former Bisons (Rex Brothers, Josh Smith and Caleb Joseph) that are having breakout seasons for their respected minor league teams. The first of the three features is on Rex Brothers.
Rex Brothers, a first-round selection (34th overall) in the 2009 Major League draft, is inching closer to the Colorado Rockies 40-man roster each day.
Coming off a strong off-season where he was named one of the “Rising Stars” while playing in the Arizona Fall League, the 6-foot-1 left-hander was tabbed as the seventh overall prospect in the Rockies organization by Baseball America.
Brothers has lived up to the hype and much more in 2011.
Starting in February, Brothers displayed his electric stuff while making eight appearances for the Rockies big league club in spring training. The former Shelbyville High School standout, recorded a 2.25 ERA and 11 strikeouts in eight innings of relief in the Cactus League.
The former Bison pitcher has always received high praise from Rockies manager Jim Tracy during his run through the minors and as a result he stayed with the big league club through the entire spring this year.
"We want Rex around here and we want him to continue to face good hitters,” Tracy told MLB.com towards the end of spring training. “Rest assured of the fact that, regardless of the direction we make, he's close and he's pushing for a spot.''
Following spring training the Rockies elected to start the former Lipscomb standout in Colorado Springs.
Through Sunday, he is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 17 games for the Triple-A Colorado Springs SkySox. Brothers has been a strikeout machine out of the bullpen this year, fanning 35 batters in 19 and one-thirds innings. He has struck out two batters in 14 of his 17 set-up relief appearances and ranks first in the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts per nine innings (16.3 SO/9).
In a recent article by the Denver Post, the Rockies manager was asked about the season Brothers was having in Triple-A.
“We’re well aware of how Rex is pitching in Colorado Springs, and we should be,’’Tracy said. “I see where he is averaging close to two strikeouts an inning. I see it. He's continuing to gain valuable experience.”
One Major League scout recently raved about his fastball velocity, which has been clocked consistently in 92-95 mph range and has been tabbed with closer type stuff at the big league level.
A native of Chapel Hill, Tenn., Rex has had an exciting journey since arriving on campus at Lipscomb in the fall of 2006. While at Lipscomb, Brothers was a three-time Atlantic Sun All-Conference selection and made an immediate impact to the Bison program on-and-off-the-field. As a sophomore, Brothers played an integral part in getting the Bisons to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008.
Bisons fans recall many highlights of Rex’s career but none bigger than leading the Bisons to a 10-7 win over eighth-ranked Georgia in the first round of the NCAA Athens Regional. Georgia went on to finish runner-up at the 2008 College World Series. The win over the Bulldogs also marked the first ever NCAA Tournament win in the history of the program.
Following his junior season at Lipscomb, Rex joined elite company, becoming just the second player in Lipscomb baseball history to be selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, joing Bison NAIA All-American, Bo McLaughlin, who was a first round pick in the 1975 draft.
In three years in the Minor Leagues, Brothers has a career 3.13 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 100 and two-thirds innings while playing for SkySox (Triple-A), Tulsa Drillers (Double-A), Modesto Nuts (High-A), Asheville Tourists (Low-A), Tri City Dust Devils (Short-season-A).
It’s only a matter of time before Brothers receives the call from Rockies GM Daniel J. O’Dowd and manager Jim Tracy to come to the “Show” and you can bet that Rex will be ready.
Written by Travis Young, Lipscomb Athletic Media Relations
Photo above courtesy of Harry How/Getty Images