It was all worth it.
Jake Brown worked hard as a pitcher at Georgia Southern these past few years, and the first big payoff was the nod as the No. 1 guy throughout the 2010 season.
Tuesday on Day 2 of the Major League Baseball Draft, the next step of Brown’s dream was realized -- he became a pro when the Oakland Athletics drafted him in the 26th round as the 785th pick overall.
His eyes and ears were glued to the computer as he watched all 784 picks leading up to the moment his name was called.
“I was watching it online all day (Tuesday) and starting at round one (Monday),” said the lefty. “I was listening to the audio too. They have, ‘Oakland Athletics select blank, blank,’ and I heard, ‘Brown, Jake, Georgia Southern University,’ then I saw my name pop up, and me and my brother just started screaming and yelling. Then I got the call from the scout.”
Brown had a flashback to all the years of training leading up to the moment.
“First thing that popped into my head was all the hard work I put in,” he said. “You feel relief. All that extra work you put in -- the extra hours in the gym, the extra sprints you did. I would even stay up if I didn’t have time to do extra sprints that day and do extra lifting, extra work. The first thing that runs through your mind is that it all paid off.”
He quickly figured that, moving on to the professional ranks, was only the beginning.
“You gotta realize that you’ve got to keep doing it. You’re a pro now,” he said. “You’ve got to make it, you’ve just got to keep it going.”
Based on a conversation with an Oakland scout before the Southern Conference Tournament, Brown thinks he will be sent to the Athletics’ Short-Season Class A squad, the Toronto Canadians. He’s never left the country -- “I’ll have to get a passport and everything,” he said.
Brown was quick to thank all his high school, junior college and GSU coaches, and could be reunited with a former teammate. He’s only a phone call away from being called to the Class A Kane County Cougars, where former Eagle Chris Mederos, who was drafted in 2009, is in the starting rotation. He knows he’ll have to build on everything he’s learned if he wants to keep taking steps forward in the minors.
“With the stuff I learned at Georgia Southern and the stuff I learned at the D-I level, I’ll definitely carry it over to pro ball,” Brown said. “But I heard that (Oakland has) a really great farm program for pitchers, and they really develop their pitchers well. I’ll pick up some stuff to make me better, and I see myself in a couple years getting that big opportunity, that big shot.”
Also drafted from Georgia Southern were Shawn Payne, a junior centerfielder who was selected by the Kansas City Royals in Round 44 (1,319 overall) and Andy Moye, a junior pitcher who was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 50th round (1,519).
A Georgia Southern official said Payne and Moye were unsure Wednesday if they will accept offers to play minor league ball or return to GSU for their senior seasons.
Matt Yoogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.