“Always Set on Coming Back to Long Island”
Joash Brodin got the opportunity he had been waiting for his entire life during the 2013 season. The Plano, Texas native who now resides in Olympia, Washington had spent the first four and a half seasons of his professional career playing in independent baseball. He had hit .300 or better in every one of those seasons, earned All-Star appearances and even led the Frontier League in batting the 2012 campaign before coming to Long Island. Not to mention, he was leading the Ducks in several offensive categories and had just earned a starting spot in the Atlantic League All-Star Game. Yet despite all of his accolades, Brodin had never been given the chance to showcase his talents for a Major League organization. Then, the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling.
“It was awesome,” he recalled via telephone. “It was something that I had been waiting for my whole life. My parents were there [in Sugar Land, Texas during a Ducks road trip], so I was able to share that with them. It was definitely a good feeling because that had been my goal since college was to get an opportunity.”
On August 14, Joash Brodin earned a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, his first opportunity to play in affiliated baseball. He would report to High-A Visalia in the California League and be a part of an organization that was battling for first place in the National League West with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Though he would only go on to play eight games with Visalia, it was an experience he was happy to get.
“I definitely enjoyed it,” Brodin said. “It was definitely different than independent ball, but it was good to experience that and just get a taste of it.”
Regarding the differences he experienced, the 27-year-old added, “The biggest difference was the mindset of the players. In independent ball, you’re all about trying to win championships, and it’s more about winning than it is development. In affiliated, you see the guys that they want to focus on and try to develop, and then you see the guys that don’t really get a lot of attention.”
While his season ended in September, Brodin knew he would get the chance to keep his spot in the organization since he was invited to spring training. The switch-hitter reported to the team’s minor league camp focused on improving his game and showcasing his ability to the team. Unfortunately, despite a solid performance, the Diamondbacks opted to release Brodin and opened the door for a return to Long Island.
“I felt like I was doing well,” he said. “I hit the ball hard and did well, in my opinion, in just about every aspect whether it was individual defense or batting practice. I did a lot of that and felt good. Worst case scenario, I got to see some live pitching, get some reps, and throw every day just to get myself ready for this year.”
Though his time in Arizona was over, his career with the Ducks was about to continue. Brodin had experienced the thrill of winning the 2012 Atlantic League championship and watched from afar as the 2013 team he began the year with repeated as champions. If he couldn’t play in affiliated ball, he knew Long Island was home for him.
“I was always set on coming back to Long Island,” he affirmed. “I enjoy it there and enjoy the guys there. I’m definitely ready to get there and get going.”
The Ducks officially announced the signing of Brodin on Wednesday, securing their most consistent offensive force from a year ago. The College of Charleston alum can do it all on the baseball diamond, possessing many of the major tools that baseball organizations look for.
Hit for Average
Brodin led the Ducks during the 2013 season with a .307 batting average. Only two other players that suited up last season had higher averages, but neither qualified to be among the leaders. Lew Ford hit .377 but only played in 17 games, and Dontrelle Willis hit .500 but only had two at-bats. Brodin put up averages o f.330, .301 and .300 in his first three seasons in the Frontier League and combined to hit .333 in the Frontier League and Atlantic League in 2012. The switch-hitter has the ability to hit the ball anywhere on the field and has an incredibly smooth swing.
Hit for Power
In four of his five professional seasons, Brodin has reached double-digit home run totals. While he may not have the same level of power as other first basemen, he can certainly hit the longball, especially in clutch situations. Check out what he did on July 19 of last year against the Camden Riversharks:
Brodin’s 11 homers in 2013 were tied for third on the team behind Bill Hall (16) and Adam Bailey (15). His career-high for longballs is 14, done in 2011 with River City and 2012 combined with London (Frontier) and Long Island (Atlantic).
Brodin is the perfect guy to have near the top of your order, not only because of his ability to get on base, but because of his ability to steal. He led the Ducks in 2013 with 14 stolen bases despite playing in just 106 games. Long Island certainly was not a running team last year, as their 65 steals were second-fewest (York had 47). However, Brodin was a fairly consistent threat and a good base runner, getting caught just five times. His career-high for steals was 29 in 2010, and he was only caught five times that season as well. If manager Kevin Baez is in need of a stolen base, Brodin is perfectly capable of providing it.
One of the many benefits that Brodin brings to the table is his versatility. His primary position is first base, having played 300 of his 467 career games there. However, he can also play both of the corner outfield positions and has even spent time at third base while filling in for an injured Bryant Nelson last year. Not only is he versatile, but he plays every position well. That can be clearly seen by his .986 career fielding percentage. Brodin has made just 40 errors over his entire career, and that confidence allows Baez to feel comfortable playing him in the field as often as possible.
Ducks fans can expect to see a healthy dose of platooning between Brodin and Strieby this year. When one serves as the first baseman, the other will likely be the designated hitter. Strieby boasts a career fielding percentage of .992, so it’s hard to say one should play the field over another. However, Strieby and Brodin can both also play left field should Fehlandt Lentini need a day off or a day as the DH, and Brodin can take over right field if Adam Bailey needs some rest.
Regardless of where he plays though, the two-time Atlantic League champion is back on Long Island. That’s reason enough for Ducks fans to be thrilled. The roster now sits at 18 players. 12 were a part of last year’s championship team at some point during the year. Nine were a part of both the 2012 and 2013 championship squads. The Ducks have a core group of winners leading the way for 2014, and that playoff experience and familiarity with Long Island and the Atlantic League should come in handy.