Re: GCL Reds and Billings
Nice article about Brandon Waring from the Billings Gazette...
Home opener: Waring looks to bring big bat to Ponies
By MIKE SCHERTING
Of The Gazette Staff
Brandon Waring wasn't expecting too much from his junior season at Wofford College.
Mainly, the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder was concerned with simply regaining his freshman form after missing most of his sophomore season with a hand injury.
He did so much more than that.
Waring wound up leading the Southern Conference this spring in hitting (.401) and home runs (27). He finished third in the league with 74 RBIs and became a first-team all-Southern Conference selection, a first-team Louisville Slugger All-American, and a unanimous choice for Most Outstanding Player in the Southern Conference Tournament. He was also named as one of 10 semifinalists for the Brooks Wallace Award, given annually by the College Baseball Foundation to the nation's top college baseball player.
Waring went into the season with no thoughts of being drafted. He ended it as a seventh-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds and the starting third baseman for the Billings Mustangs when they began the Pioneer League season in Great Falls on Tuesday.
"I never really slumped and always tried to have good at-bats," Waring said of his breakout season for the Spartanburg, S.C., college. "Good things seemed to happen every time I went up."
In 2005, Waring hit 10 home runs to set a school record at the time for a freshman. His home runs led the team, as did his 41 RBIs. Twenty-two games into his sophomore season, however, Waring broke the hamate bone in his left hand while fouling off a pitch. Though not an uncommon injury for baseball players or golfers, it prevented him from gripping a bat or even moving his wrist and he was sidelined for the rest of the season, finishing with a .266 average, four home runs and 20 RBIs.
Following surgery and some rehabilitation during fall ball, Waring was set to go this spring with some modest goals.
"I was just looking to stay healthy, have a decent year," he said. "I was looking to bat above .300, maybe hit double-digit home runs."
Waring's 27 home runs ranked him second in the nation behind Texas sophomore Kyle Russell, who hit 28. Whether those numbers will translate into home run power for the Mustangs remains to be seen. In the team's opening three-game series at Great Falls, Waring was 2-for-8 at the plate.
"There's no player at this level who's a polished guy right now," Mustangs manager Joe Kruzel said. "But I do think that there's something in there that this kid has a chance to be a special player some day. I really do."
Waring would like to think so, too, all the while acknowledging he's got several adjustments to make to become a consistent professional hitter.
"It'll take a little time, but I think I'll get the hang of it," he said. "I'm learning pretty quickly and I'm looking for good things this summer. It should be fun."