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Cincinnati Reds reliever Brad Brach continues to defy the odds

ST. LOUIS – There will never be another Major League Baseball player with the same path to the big leagues as Brad Brach.

He was a 42nd-round pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2008 MLB Draft out of Monmouth University in New Jersey, a round that doesn’t even exist anymore. The MLB Draft was shortened to 40 rounds in 2012 and now it sits at 20 rounds this year because of pandemic-related changes.

Short-season leagues disappeared as MLB cut 40 minor league affiliates prior to the 2021 season. The Reds lost the Billings Mustangs and the Greeneville Reds as their short-season affiliates and all organizations are capped at 180 players.

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“It makes me a little sad for the guys who the organization just took a shot on,” Brach said. “I know there are other routes for guys like me to get signed or something like that. At the same time, you understand why they shortened it just because it doesn’t happen very often.”

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Brad Brach (47) during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Saturday, June 12, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Reds won, 10-3.

Independent ball will likely become more popular with fewer minor league players, but that could be a much harder path to the big leagues because they still have to work their way into affiliated baseball at some point.

There may not be 42nd-round picks anymore, but Brach thought a similar path could be playing Independent ball for two or three years and receiving a chance from an organization afterward. Would he have considered Independent ball if he wasn’t drafted in 2008?


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