Sports Saturday Q&A: Rochester’s Bruss jumps arm-first in pro baseball – Reuters Sports News
Thomas Bruss, who played baseball at Century High School and then Division II University at Augustana, signed a professional baseball contract with the New Jersey Jackals.
The Jackals are an independent minor league team in the Frontier League. Bruss is a 6-foot-8, 280-pound right-handed relief pitcher. The 23-year-old recently had a chat with Post Bulletin sportswriter Guy N. Limbeck.
POST BULLETIN: You signed a contract with the New Jersey Jackals, how exciting was that?
THOMAS BRUSS: It came quite quickly. I was playing with the Mankato MoonDogs (in the Northwoods League) this summer and was hoping to sign an affiliate deal. Nothing really came of it, so I kind of mentioned something to my coach (Augustana). We had talked about it a bit, independent ball, and New Jersey was the first team to contact me. I mean, it’s exciting and it’s a different feeling to get paid to play baseball.
PB: You haven’t been playing professional ball for long, but what is your experience so far?
BRUSSELS: It’s a great group of guys to be around. Even summer ball and college baseball, to some extent, is like a melting pot of guys from different backgrounds. But indie and minor league baseball is just one step (another) beyond that. I play with guys aged 24-33. Some of these guys I played against in college, some of these guys were second-round picks by major league clubs out of high school and some of these guys were straight from the Dominican Republic. Republic and does not speak much English.
PB: How long have you had the goal of playing professional ball?
BRUSSELS: It’s been my goal ever since I figured out what it was. I think any kid who really loves baseball has that goal.
PB: You weren’t selected in the amateur baseball draft, was that a disappointment?
BRUSSELS: Maybe going straight to the independent ball wasn’t what you thought was going to happen. As a kid you dreamed of getting drafted and signing a big contract and making your Major League debut at the age of 21 or 22, but that’s not everyone’s story. . But it’s not quite established yet in the fact that I’m a professional baseball player. I think once I get my first check…it might settle down then.
PB: You were always a relief pitcher in college. What will your role be in New Jersey?
BRUSSELS: Definitely out of the bullpen. There are no really defined roles, outside of which we sort of understand who is going to play in what situation. We just stay ready and get ready to warm up as soon as your name is called.
DB: You’re a big guy, how fast do you throw and what are your favorite pitches?
Brussels : This summer in Mankato, my average speed was probably 94-96. I tapped 98 a few times. … The fastball, as long as you can hit your runs with that, you’ll be very successful. But I honestly think my go-to pitch right now is my slider. I have come to understand this well over the past year. I’ll throw 12 in a row sometimes and throw it for a catch when I’m behind on the count.
PB: You had different options to sign with other teams, how did you select New Jersey?
BRUSSELS: My coach (university) contacted me and told me that a team from Schaumburg (Illinois) near Chicago was also interested. But I told the New Jersey coach – I hadn’t signed anything – that I was coming there and I didn’t want to go back on a verbal agreement. I also thought it would be fun to go to the other side of the country, a place I had never been. And I’ll only be here a little over a month, it’s not like I’m signing on full time. And the Frontier League is a good league to finish in. It’s an old league and a very competitive league.
PB: What are your plans for the off-season?
BRUSSELS: I’m going to live in Rochester, honestly. An off-season to accumulate money, then work and train. Five years of college and quite a few years of prom and my savings account isn’t as deep as I’d like.