Brody Jessee picked in 10th round by Reds in MLB Draft

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Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 18, 2022

Even though Anchorage’s Brody Jessee knew he would get drafted at some point today, the moment still caught him off guard.

Seeing your name scroll across the bottom of the TV screen will do that.

“It's all kind of just setting in now,” he said after getting picked in the 10th round by the Cincinnati Reds. “It’s very cool.”

It’s also historic.

Jessee was selected with the 303rd overall pick, making him the eighth-highest Alaskan among the 38 players from the state to be taken in the MLB Draft.

When it comes to Anchorage, only Brian Montalbo (4th round, Braves), Jonny Homza (5th round, Padres) and Trajan Langdon (6th round, Padres) have been drafted higher than Jessee.

The 21-year-old rocket right-hander out of Gonzaga University knew he would get drafted because of previous conversations he had had with his agent and scouts from different teams around the league.

“They were projecting second day,” he said.

“I was sitting there watching all of my teammates get drafted and just taking phone calls from everybody, thinking about where I might land and talking to my agent.”

The buildup to the moment he got drafted was crazy as he heard from the Phillies, Reds, Cubs and Yankees.

His phone kept ringing and ringing.

“They were calling talking numbers,” he said. “How about 7th, the 8th? How about 9th, how about after the 10th, trying to figure out what they were going to sign for as the picks were flying by. I was trying to talk to my agent about them, and he was hearing things. It was a whole thing.”

Jessee felt like he was living out a movie about the draft, with plot twists, nervous moments and a happy ending.

“The whole dramatic thing that you see on TV ended up happening to me,” Jessee said with a laugh. “But it was fun. It’s a lot of relief, a lot of excitement. My whole life for the next four or five years got decided today.”

The former South all-star is coming off his sophomore season at Gonzaga, where he ranked second with 18 appearances on a 37-19 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-4 reliever furnished a 4.58 ERA in 35.1 innings with 48 strikeouts to 19 walks.

“My season itself, result wise, was a little underwhelming for myself just because I had set some lofty goals,” he said.

Still, there were marvelous moments like his two takeover performances, first against No. 4 Oklahoma State and then against West Coast Conference opponent Pepperdine.

He showcased a 97-mph fastball at Oklahoma State, mowing through the order on his way to racking up seven Ks in 3.2 scoreless inning and earning the win in a 2-1 victory.

A month later he racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts in four frames against Pepperdine – the first Alaskan to record double-digit Ks against a NCAA Division I opponent since Sitka’s Matt Way of Washington State had 12 against Washington in 2009.

Jessee finished with 48 Ks, one more than Montalbo had with California in 2001.

“It was kind of a ‘prove it’ season, where scouts could see me go length over four innings, show them that I could be a starter potentially,” Jessee said. “From that standpoint the season went really well.”

Already armed with a flaming fastball and disappearing slider, Jessee this year added a changeup to his arsenal. Having a third pitch to consistently lean on for outs is a game changer for a pitcher. It’s an element he’s worked hard on that didn’t come easy.

“I was always tinkering with a third pitch but I could never really call it my third pitch,” he said. “It just didn’t have a consistent shape and it wasn’t coming off the same, and I’d lose it for months on end.”

But that’s changed with his changeup.

“I’m understanding the way the ball is supposed to move now and how it’s supposed to feel out of the hand,” Jessee said. “I’m learning along the way.

“Compared to everybody I’m competing against, I have minimal experience, so it’s a matter of making every inning count, every bullpen count.”

Jessee didn’t play in a summer league like the ABL, opting instead to wait for the draft and work out with his personal pitching coach, Johnny Meszaros – a former MLB draft pick in 2013 – of Anchorage.

“He started training me after my freshman year in college and that’s the full reason why I’m here now,” Jessee said of Meszaros. “I’ve been training with him, working the slider, working the changeup and just really trying to refine my shapes, and stay healthy, lifting hard and staying on pace.”

Jessee was not ranked among the top 250 players entering the draft, before going No. 303 to Cincinnati.

“(This) definitely validates all the work I put in wasn’t for nothing,” he said. “At least someone, somewhere, sees the value and potential in that, so it’s a nice way for me to get my foot in the door to hopefully play in the bigs someday.”