By Brendan Kincaid | firstname.lastname@example.org
For Andrew “Opie” Brodbeck, a rigorous training schedule is paying off as the Flagler Saints kickstart their hottest season in the past 10 years.
Brodbeck’s “offseasons” have been grueling. Three weeks before summer leagues begin, he trains with full days of baseball 6 days per week with only Sunday off. When he gets to his summer team, which this season was a Valley Baseball league team in Woodstock, Virginia, he is competing with other college baseball players from all over the country.
Coming off the best statistical performance of his career, Brodbeck enters his senior season on the PBC Preseason All-Conference team. Previously he had made Academic all-Conference teams as a sophomore and junior. Realistic expectations for this season seem to be nothing less than a postseason berth, which has eluded Brodbeck during his first three years at Flagler. His ultimate goal for this year would to become a National Champion with Flagler College.
“He’s an all-around player, has improved his hitting and defense. He’s what you call a full-time baseball player,” said Flagler Saints Assistant Baseball Coach Dusty Rhodes.
Clearly, the improvements have been showing as the Saints have surged to 11-1 after completing their 2nd straight sweep of a Peace Belt Conference team this Sunday with a win over Georgia College. On the season so far, Brodbeck is batting a whopping .425 with 20 runs scored.
“This is the most talented and closest team since I’ve been here. Everyone knows their roles,” he said.
Being a captain and leader on the team, Brodbeck knows his own role. He admits that he is not the most talented player, but his love for the game, heart and work ethic are unmatched and he leads by example, which spreads to the rest of the team.
“He’s my favorite baseball player I’ve played with. He doesn’t lose his intensity, and is always fiery,” said pitcher Michael Maiocco, who proves Brodbeck’s popularity spreads to the pitcher’s mound as well.
“The middle of the field is the core of a team and having leadership in these roles in essential to their success,” Brodbeck mentioned about the strengths of the team.
These include the catcher, middle infielders, pitchers and center fielder. Flagler touts upperclassman in these roles with lots of baseball experience at a high level. One is Junior transfer Nick Oberg, a shortstop who came in from Coastal Carolina this season. Brodbeck calls him a “baseball guy,” and mentioned that they work really well together in the middle of the infield.
Growing up, Brodbeck has followed his local team the Tampa Bay Rays since their inception in 1998 and like them has seen improvement in his own play. David Eckstein is his favorite major leaguer and has inspired him to fight through adversity and overcome during hard times. Brodbeck called Eckstein a “grinder,” which goes hand in hand with his own work ethic and mentality.
It has been a long road for Brodbeck to get where he is now. He missed his junior season of high school with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. The start of this past fall he was advised to take 6 weeks off at the recommendation of Flagler’s athletic doctor. He then had to make the difficult decision to either keep playing during the fall or watch from the sidelines.
Ultimately, he chose to sit out the remainder of the fall in order to have all winter break to be fully recovered for his upcoming senior season. This painful but unique experience enabled him to sit back and become more of a student of the game. While it was very difficult watching his teammates work hard during the time he was out, being on the outside looking in gave Brodbeck more of a chance to sit by teammates and study the game.
Brodbeck’s goals are clear, he wants to win the Peach Belt Conference and make it to the Regional tournament. After the season he want’s nothing less than to be drafted and play professional baseball. He is more than willing to work through the farm system and plans on staying in shape until the draft in June.
He is striving for this as his main focus, and no matter what happens in his professional baseball career, he plans to stay around baseball, whether it’s coaching, working in player development or scouting.