“…I told my Dad it was either the (Major League Baseball) draft or Texas A&M.” –Brandon Birdsell
Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Birdsell signs letter of intent with Texas A&M, may go pro
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — When Muscogee (Creek) citizen Brandon Birdsell’s baseball talent first began to catch the eye of college recruiters, he already had his mind made up.
“The recruiting process can be pretty hectic,”Birdsell said. “I don’t want to say all the other offers were a waste of time, but I told my Dad it was either the (Major League Baseball) draft or Texas A&M.”
Birdsell has loved Aggie baseball since he could remember. Growing up just an hour away from the College Station, Texas campus afforded him the opportunity to visit often and get a feel for life at A&M.
“I fell in love with A&M. The atmosphere is just unbelievable and it keeps getting better and better every time I go back,” he said.
One look at Birdsell’s list of accomplishments on the baseball field makes it easy to see why he was pursued by some of the elite programs in all of college baseball, including perennial powers Texas Christian University and Vanderbilt.
A starting pitcher, he first burst onto the radar with a 5-2 record with a 2.89 ERA and 61 strikeouts as just a sophomore. Those stats were good enough to earn him recognition as Second Team All- District.
And then adversity struck.
He tore a ligament in his elbow requiring Tommy John surgery, a procedure baseball players know all too well, and was not able to pitch his junior season.
For Birdsell, the surgery and subsequent rehab offered him an opportunity to progress his game in a non-physical manner.
“The rehab was pretty intense,” he said. “The toughest thing was seeing everyone else progress while I was just sitting there. But I kept my mind strong, and didn’t let it affect my mental game… if anything it’s made my mental game even stronger.”
A majority of pitchers that have had the same surgical procedure recover with no issue, and some even better than before. Birdsell said he picked up right where he left off.
This summer his play garnered him a spot on the All-Tournament Team at the World Wood Bat Association National Championship as well as a selection to the Texas Rangers Area Code Games roster.
Now he is prepped and ready for a big senior season at Willis High School, and the A&M staff is ready to have him on campus.
“Brandon is a dynamic athlete with strength and a lightning fast arm,” Texas A&M recruiting coordinator Justin Seely said. “He has low-to-mid 90s velocity with developing secondary pitches. He could fill multiple roles for us early on.”
The toughest thing for Brandon, more than recruiting and rehab and facing the best hitters in Texas, will be the upcoming choice he may be forced to make.
It’s the choice that was there from the beginning, being an Aggie or going pro.
As an eligible senior this year, some project Birdsell as a 4th or 5th round pick in the MLB Draft. That could mean high dollar signing bonuses and contracts if he continues to progress.
“Considering that I missed a lot of time with the injury, I feel that I can move up my position and get up there maybe in the 3rd or 4th round,” he said. “I’ve been working my tail off in the off-season.”
His Muscogee heritage is important to him as well, specifically being one of the few Creek citizens that will play at the Division I level and possibly the pros. Lots of his family is back in Creek country and proud of him, from Dustin to Broken Arrow.
“It’s a huge honor really, because I feel like I’m out there representing the tribe,” he said.
Birdsell will find out where he is chosen during the MLB’s First Year Player Draft beginning June 12, and if he does not sign with a team, will report to Texas A&M in the fall.