Watching the first two rounds of the MLB Draft, Jack Brannigan sat back and watched the picks go by.
He didn’t think he’d hear his name called, but no one knew for sure.
For Brannigan, a Marist High School graduate, he set his sights more on the second day of the draft, which featured rounds 3-10. He knew his time would come and, potentially, sooner rather than later.
He was right.
Brannigan was drafted in the third round on July 18 by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 83rd pick overall in the MLB Draft. He signed his contract with the Pirates on July 22 and quickly reported to the Pirates spring training facility in Bradenton, Fla.
“That feeling is hard to explain,” Brannigan said. “It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life, so it’s a pretty surreal moment. My family was there with me, and then we had more family and friends come over. That was such a cool moment.”
Brannigan, a 6’1”, 190-pound infielder, pitcher, is a 2019 Marist grad.
He continued his academic-athletic career at the University of Notre Dame, including a breakout junior campaign this spring as the Fighting Irish made a historic run to the College World Series.
Helping power the run, Brannigan finished the season hitting .291 with a .360 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, 46 RBI, 47 runs and 10 stolen bases.
He also pitched in 11 games with one start, finishing with a 2-2 record and 28 strikeouts in 14.2 innings on the mound.
As for his positional versatility, the Pirates like what they see.
“It’ll be a two-way route. They want me to focus on being a position player this year and then with spring training next year add the pitching in as well,” Brannigan said. “I’m definitely excited. I want to do both. I’ve been hitting my whole life, and I can do it well. I’ve got a lot more to work on and things to learn.”
At the big-league level, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has taken the MLB by storm over the last two years as a dominant hitter and starting pitcher, including being named the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player.
Although Brannigan isn’t looking too far ahead, his two-way potential certainly provides some interesting possibilities.
“You never know. That’d definitely be cool,” Brannigan said. “We’ll have to see down the road.”
Brannigan was one of two Marist grads from 2019 who were drafted this summer, including Illinois first baseman Justin Janas being picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round.
Brannigan and Janas were both star performers for the 2019 RedHawks squad that advanced to a Class 4A supersectional.
“I texted Justin after the draft and congratulated him,” Brannigan said. “We were both getting settled in, figuring out where we’ll be shipped off to, what camp, but I’m sure we’ll reconnect. It’s pretty exciting to hear two names called from the same high school team. That was awesome.”
Marist Coach Kevin Sefcik said Brannigan can excel anywhere on the field.
“Jack really developed his power in college,” Sefcik said. “He’s always been a speedy guy, but he’s a doubles and home run hitter, too. Moving to the infield has worked out for him. He has the tools to play the infield, too, and do it well. He’s such a valuable player because he fits anywhere on the diamond and is above average.”
While he waits to see where he’s assigned in the Pirates minor league system, Brannigan can’t wait to show the organization what he can do.
“I’m really excited to prove myself,” Brannigan said. “It’s crazy that I can see myself as a professional baseball player. This is something I’ve worked my whole life for. I’m excited for the opportunity and starting that next step.”