Former MCCC Viking Denny Brady Makes 2020 Los Angeles Angels Player Pool

7/27/20

Los Angeles – Denny Brady was asleep when he got the call up to the majors. It was 11 p.m. when the Los Angeles Angels phone Brady, then his agent, after which his agent reached out to his mom to wake him up and share the good news.

Days later, Brady was off to California, one of 60 players to make the Angels’ roster ahead of the 2020 season.

A graduate of Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) baseball program and part of the team that went to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series in 2017, Brady’s path to the majors couldn’t have been better timed. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States, all minor league baseball play has been suspended.

That leaves thousands of players in an MLB or bust situation.

“I knew my name was in consideration,” Brady said of whether he expected the assignment. “So, it was just a matter of staying ready.”

Staying ready was easier said than done. In the spring before his callup, Brady was posted in Arizona, rehabilitating after undergoing ulnar nerve transposition surgery. Two days into his training, coronavirus hit, sending Brady back to his hometown, Vineland.

Ever since spring training was cancelled, Brady continued his rehab in New Jersey. The pitcher stayed sharp by throwing anywhere he could.

For a while, that meant he was, “throwing in a bullpen in a coach’s back yard for college and pro players.”

The makeshift workouts paid off. As a member of the Angels’ player pool, Brady is now training alongside some of the best talent in baseball, preparing himself in case his number gets called.

“We have a different schedule every day, but generally it consists of showing up to the field, throwing, and running,” Brady said. After the last meal of the day, Brady gets ready to start the process all over again.

Despite the increased demands at the professional level, Brady said that getting his start at Mercer was the basis for his current success.

Brady noted that having his friend and catcher Anthony Peroni at Mercer started his career with the Vikings on the right foot. “I played three years of travel with Anthony before Mercer,” Brady said. “I knew I’d have a really great catcher.”

Then, when fellow MCCC pitcher Andrew DiPiazza announced he’d return for the 2017 season, Brady knew he was in a great spot.

“Having Andrew on the team made it so scouts would be at our games,” Brady said. DiPiazza was heavily scouted during his time at Mercer, and has since signed with the Colorado Rockies in the MLB.

Add to that Brady’s – and the team’s – belief in then-head coach Kevin Kerins, and Brady knew Mercer could be the springboard for his professional career.

“The cool thing about Mercer is that [the program] made you mature,” Brady explained. “They didn’t force you to do a lot, but they encouraged it. We coached ourselves a lot in a sense.”

That structure, Brady said, emulates that of the pros.

“At some colleges, players get used to being told what to do. But Mercer was a proactive atmosphere. The players held each other accountable.”

Brady recalled that it wasn’t an easy road to the NJCAA World Series Championship. A rift between players who did the minimum, and those who pushed for excellence created some growing pains to start the season.

Learning to speak up when his teammates were slacking became part of the recipe that unified the Vikings, ultimately paving a way to the championship game in Oklahoma.

Though the team ended as runner-up, falling to Kankakee Community College 5-11, Brady hasn’t forgotten how he felt in his final moments as a Viking.

“The best moment that comes to mind is the last inning of the World Series,” Brady said. “Just shaking hands with all the players and coaches. I knew I was part of something special.”

 

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Denny Brady

Denny Brady helped the Vikings to the and 2017 NJCAA World Championship in Enid, OK.