Tyler Brown has chosen black and gold over red.
The 2017 Olentangy Orange High School graduate has opted to play baseball at Vanderbilt University instead of signing to play in the Cincinnati Reds organization.
Brown was selected by the Reds in the 26th round of the MLB draft June 14. He decided to play at Vanderbilt after Cincinnati’s pool of signing bonus money became increasingly smaller.
“First, I like the coaching (at Vanderbilt). I have a lot of friends down there and I can play in the (Southeastern Conference),” Brown said. “I want to show the pro teams what kind of player and what kind of person I am. I’m excited for the chance to do that.”
The Reds’ top draft pick, Hunter Greene, signed for a bonus of $7,230,000. That contract helped steer Brown’s decision to play at the Nashville, Tennessee, school.
“We had hoped to work something out, but when Hunter Greene signed for (more than) his (slotted bonus of $7,193,200) we knew it wouldn’t happen,” said Brandon Oswalt, Brown’s adoptive father. “Tyler can still go to Vanderbilt and continue to get better against some of the top players in the country.”
Brown was first-team all-state, all-district and all-league as a senior. He went 4-3 with a 1.08 ERA, 68 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52 innings and batted .371 with five home runs and 26 RBI, helping the Pioneers go 23-9 overall and 10-5 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. They lost to Strongsville 3-2 in a Division I state semifinal June 2 at Huntington Park.
Brown is playing summer baseball for the Midland Redskins in Batavia, about 30 miles east of Cincinnati.
His decision to play at Vanderbilt means he will not be draft eligible until 2020. He begins practice at Vanderbilt on Aug. 16.
“I’ll have the opportunity to play with some great competition and it will give me a chance to show how good I really am,” Brown said. “I have a chance to work hard and get better with some good coaches and friends.”
Vanderbilt was 36-25-1 this spring, losing 8-4 and 9-2 to Oregon State in an NCAA Division I Super Regional on June 9 and 10 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Commodores were third (15-13-1) in the SEC-East Division behind eventual College World Series champion Florida (21-9) and Kentucky (19-11).
The Commodores have made the NCAA postseason in each of the last 12 seasons and 13 of the last 14. They reached the College World Series in 2011, 2014 and 2015, winning the title in 2014 and finishing as the runner-up in 2015.
“It really was a win-win situation for Tyler,” Orange coach Phil Callaghan said. “If he would have signed, he would have started in professional baseball. But he didn’t sign, so he can work to improve and get a good education. He’s in good shape.”