Tanner Brown’s journey from pitcher in junior college to starter for the Long Beach State baseball team began almost a year ago.
The junior right-hander began his collegiate career at Golden West College in Fountain Valley after going undrafted out of high school. Brown was not highly recruited, but his passion for baseball never dwindled.
“I’ve always loved the competiveness that baseball brings,” Brown said.
Bert Villarreal, the head coach at Golden West College, told Brown he had one last shot to tag on with a Division I school as a walk-on with either Cal State Fullerton or LBSU. After throwing bullpen sessions for both teams, he decided to join the Dirtbags.
A major part of Brown’s decision was the opportunity LBSU presented. The Dirtbags lost three starting pitchers to the either graduation or the MLB draft, so Brown immediately jumped at the chance to fill the void.
“[Head coach Troy] Buckley told me what my role could be, and I thought it was a great opportunity,” Brown said.
LBSU’s reputation for putting guys in the majors was another reason for Brown to become a Dirtbag. The Dirtbags have a history of developing pitchers and have produced guys like all-star right-hander Jared Weaver.
“There are a lot of scouts out here,” Brown said. “Buckley has a way of helping guys get to that next level.”
Buckley saw some weaknesses in Brown’s delivery, most notably his penchant for rushing while on the mound. Still, the strengths outnumbered the deficiencies in Brown’s game, and Buckley saw a high upside pitcher.
“I liked the arm action I saw out of him and thought his body was great for pitching,” Buckley said.
Brown’s ability to throw strikes has served him in his first season with the Dirtbags. He is 3-0 on the season and batters only have a .149 batting average against him. He has only surrendered four walks and 14 hits in his 27 innings pitched with a 1.65 ERA.
Junior catcher Eric Hutting said Brown is one of the most impressive transfers he has ever worked with in his three years as a Dirtbag. Hutting called Brown a competitor, and advised not to mistake Brown’s quiet personality in the clubhouse with indifference.
“The way he has handled himself, stayed consistent and competed has been great,” Hutting said. “He doesn’t get too high or too low and stays even-keeled on the mound.”
Buckley said Brown was more of an internal thinker than an outspoken personality. He said the team often discusses Marvel comic superheroes, and had an interesting comparison for Brown.
“Brown might be more Peter Parker in real life,” Buckley said. “[He] acts more like Spider-Man when competing.”
Brown’s cerebral mentality helps him keep his composure on the mound. Brown said he finds inspiration from Dodgers Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw.
“I love how he competes, holds his composure and gets after it,” Brown said.