Brooks Brannon was a record-setting power hitter at Randleman.
Now he’s getting the long ball going as a professional baseball player in the Boston Red Sox organization.
Brannon smashed his first pro home run on June 5 in Rookie League action as the FCL Red Sox beat the FCL Orioles 7-2. In the lineup as the designated hitter, Brannon belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning. It was the season-opener for the FCL Red Sox.
“I feel pretty good,” Brannon said. “I'm just glad to be playing. It’s good to be playing again.”
Word, of course, filtered home in a hurry.
“I think it’s a testament to how hard he’s worked,” Randleman coach Jake Smith said. “He’s only at the beginning of what he’s capable of going forward in his pro career.”
Brannon, who was drafted in the ninth round in 2022 by the Red Sox, had suffered a freak injury to his throwing hand when struck by a backswing in the last week of spring training. That set back his progress heading into the season. So did a sore shoulder from the resulting inactivity.
“He had some back luck there,” Smith said.
And had to work through it.
“I was injured for a little bit and was struggling to get back in a routine, to get back on the field again,” Brannon said. “I'm just happy to be back on the field.”
Brannon had long ago committed to the University of North Carolina but his gigantic senior season at Randleman in 2022 changed the equation.
Playing on a team that may rank as one of the best in North Carolina prep history, Brannon produced some astounding numbers. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder hit .607 with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs. The 20 homers tied his father’s single-season state record set in 1989. The RBI total shattered the previous single-season record of 62.
Randleman went on to win its second straight 2-A state title and Brannon was named MVP in the championship series.
Brannon was then drafted by the Red Sox and made the decision to sign. He played in five games for the FCL Red Sox and hit .462 with 5 RBIs.
Ranked as the No. 22 prospect of the Red Sox by mlb.com, Brannon would seemingly have been slated to begin the 2023 at the Low-A level in Salem, Virginia. But he was held back in extended spring training by the Red Sox due to the injuries and began the season with the FCL Red Sox.
“He’s starting to feel good again,” Smith said. “He’s just waiting any day now, getting ready to roll. ... I would think he'd probably go to Salem first. I say that but you never know.”
Blasting the home run was a first step, even if Brannon wasn't taken in by moment. He didn't feel anything in particular.
“Honestly, nothing,” Brannon said. “I was zoned in, trying to get back in a groove. Just trying to do my job, trying to keep my head down and doing everything I can to the best of my ability.”
That process continued the next night. In the lineup as the catcher and batting cleanup, Brannon went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI.