After more than nine years of bouncing around and putting in time in the minor leagues, Central Florida Christian Academy alum and Winter Garden native Jake Brigham got the call he had been waiting for his entire life on June 27.
Brigham, a pitcher in the minor-league system for the Atlanta Braves, was called up to join the Braves over the weekend from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he had been for just a week after being called up from the Double-A Mississippi Braves.
Brigham, 27, was drafted out of high school in 2006 by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round and is the first player from CFCA to reach the big leagues.
“I just started crying,” Brigham said to MLB.com reporter Mark Bowman when asked about his reaction. “I’ve been in the minor leagues for nine years, and I’ve been with several organizations. When (Triple-A manager Brian Snitker) told me, it was just overwhelming. It was a really great feeling.”
The exciting news for Brigham, his wife, Taylor, and their daughter, is also an exciting occasion for CFCA.
Head coach Larry Oldham, who was an assistant coach during Brigham’s senior season with the Eagles, said even then, Brigham was a class act and special kind of player.
“I remember what I liked about him was his humility — he was already throwing 92, 91 mph, and he just had tremendous humility,” Oldham said. “There was just something special about Jake. You felt that he deserved to go to the next, next level.”
Under the tutelage of head coach Greg Fulmer, Brigham navigated a senior season where Major League Baseball scouts appeared for nearly all his starts on the mound. He was drafted by the Rangers and moved around quite a bit during his journey to the big show.
Oldham credits Brigham’s family here in West Orange — especially Brigham’s older brother, Ryan — for creating a sound, Christian support base as the pitcher dealt with injuries and setbacks in the minors.
“That’s what happens in professional sports,” Oldham said of the injuries. “(Brigham) was a very fierce competitor — you knew it was just a matter of time as long as he stayed healthy.”
The school currently has a pair of players suiting up for the Rollins Tars team in Winter Park at the Division II level — Phillip Burket and Luke Brown — as well as Oldham’s son, Taylor, who plays for the independent Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association.
But it is Brigham who will forever be the first Eagle to break through and suit up for a major league game.
“Jake had it,” Oldham said. “When you saw him, you knew.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].