ZEBULON, N.C. – Hall of Famer and Yankee great Joe DiMaggio was said, “A ball player’s got to be kept hungry to become a big-leaguer.”
Former Corban right-handed ace Jason Braun is following DiMaggio’s sage advice as he plays ball during hot summer days in the Cincinnati Reds’ minor league system.
For the second time this year, Braun was promoted to the Reds’ Double-A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats, and now has a chance to cement his future with the club.
“I’d like to think that I have a chance to shine this time and stick with the team,” Braun said. “I’m not worried about how I perform and taking this experience one day at a time.”
Earlier this season, Braun was surprised by his Dayton Dragons’ manager, former big leaguer Delino DeShields after being called into the boss’ office and told that he would be heading to Double-A.
“I thought he was playing a joke on me,” braun said. “I was surprised and excited all at the same time. I enjoyed my two days with Carolina earlier, as it opened my eyes to what could be next for me.”
Braun made the most of his limited time with the Mudcats. The 6-foot-5 reliever was expected to pitch the first night he was with the team, but a stellar performance by the game’s starting pitcher left Braun sitting in the bullpen waiting for his chance.
That opportunity came the next day when Braun stepped onto a Double-A diamond for the first time in his young career. He pitched two-thirds of an inning of shutout relief without allowing a hit. Unfortunately, Braun’s time with the Mudcats was short lived as he was sent back to Dayton that evening following a host of moves within the Reds’ organization.
“Jason has made a lot of progress since we got him,” said Jeff Graupe, player development administrator for the Cincinnati Reds. “We drafted a great kid with a tremendous work ethic. He has totally bought into our system here, while changing his entire pitching motion to feature a drop-down, sidearm delivery. Jason has a big pitcher’s frame that can carry the workload and throw a lot of innings.”
Following his return to Dayton, Braun continued to shine in his role as a full-time reliever with back-to-back shutout appearances. During his last six games with the Dragons, he allowed zero runs on six hits in six innings of work. Thanks to his performance in Dayton, the Reds’ organization moved Braun back to Carolina without hesitation.
“It was easy for us to skip him past high-A straight to Carolina,” Graupe said. “Jason has shown the ability to bounce back without a lot of days off. We are confident that he will be able to pitch at this level.”
Duringthe past three seasons, Braun has seen many different parts of America. After being picked in the 29th round (869th overall) of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, Braun began his professional career in Arizona at the team’s extended spring training facility. A few months into spring training, Braun was assigned to the Billings Mustangs in Montana where he spent a full season. Following his first year of professional baseball, Braun moved up in the Reds’ organization and was assigned to the Dayton Dragons in Indiana where he pitched a full season before returning to the Dragons this April. Braun split time this season between Dayton and Carolina and is not sure where he will finish out the year, but is confident that the club knows what is best.
“It is hard to say if this move will be permanent for Jason,” Graupe said. “Injuries in the higher levels this season has caused a lot of movement throughout the organization. Carolina is definitely in the mix for next season, but that decision will be left up to the guys up above and Jason.”
All-in-all, Jason said he has enjoyed his time as a professional ball player.
“This has been a great experience,” Braun said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. As long as I am playing ball, it is better than working a real job.”