Brannon takes next steps after draft

Randleman catcher joins Red Sox organization

RANDLEMAN – The route for Randleman catcher Brooks Brannon in professional baseball is taking form after he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox last week.

Brannon said Monday, while he was traveling to Florida, that he plans to sign with the Red Sox this week in Fort Myers, Fla., where the organization has a training facility.

Two days after he was selected in the draft’s ninth round last week, Brannon was headed to Boston. He reportedly was in line to receive a signing bonus that was more in line with a second- or third-round draft selection.

“He’s going to be compensated nicely,” Randleman coach Jake Smith said. “They had to do some shuffling around and it all worked out. Both parties are happy.”

So with a professional career unfolding, Brannon won’t play collegiately for North Carolina. He was a signee with the Tar Heels.

Brannon turned 18 years old in May amid his record-setting senior season with Randleman. He was one of several core players on the Tigers’ back-to-back Class 2-A state championship teams.

Throughout the spring and leading up to the draft, the most active professional clubs in scouting Brannon appeared to be the Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins, Smith said. Most organizations had scouts stop by as well.

In many cases, it was more than regional scouts attending games, but other team officials finding their ways to Randleman. Many gathered behind the backstop, while others viewed from a distance atop the hill that circles Joe Brookshire Field.

“They spent some money coming to watch him,” the coach said.

Smith said Randleman’s appearance in a tournament in the Charleston, S.C., area during spring break also brought additional attention for the catcher, who had a good string of games that week.

Brannon was the only catcher drafted by the Red Sox among the team’s 21 picks in this month’s draft. Boston picked seven players out of high school.

The next step for Brannon will come in Fort Myers, where the Red Sox hold spring training and conduct rookie training. There’s the Florida Complex League (formerly Gulf Coast League) for young players, and that figures to be where Brannon will make his professional debut.

Games in the Florida Complex League are scheduled through Aug. 23.

“He’ll get his feet wet and be around a lot of people in the organization,” Smith said.

Boston’s minor-league affiliates are located in Salem, Va.; Greenville, S.C.; Portland, Maine; and Worcester, Mass.

“He’s going to have every opportunity to be successful,” Smith said. “He’s got a long road and a fun road ahead of him.”

By Bob Sutton