As a senior at Mount Vernon (Texas) High School, Daniel Brown struck out an astounding 171 batters in only 82 2/3 innings to go along with a 9-2 record and a 0.51 earned run average.
Despite those lofty statistics, major college programs bypassed the chance to sign the southpaw hurler.
“I went to a small high school and no one had really heard of us,” Brown said. “When they saw a guy putting up some good numbers they’d say it’s at a small school and in Texas they don’t really look at the small school guys.”
Tyler Junior College happened to be at one of Brown’s outings and gave him an opportunity. He rewarded the Apaches by leading them to the NJCAA Division III national championship as a freshman.
Brown sported the best record in the nation at 10-1 and had the second most strikeouts in the country with 87 in 71 2/3 innings. For his efforts, he was named the Division III Pitcher of the Year.
Although Brown had another year of eligibility remaining at the junior college level, he was ready to test his talents at a four-year program.
“I thought I’d accomplished pretty much all I could at the juco level and thought it was time to move on,” Brown said.
Brown’s junior college coach contacted Mississippi State to see if they would be interested in his services. Bulldogs assistant coach Nick Mingione flew to Texas to watch a bullpen session and invited Brown back for an official visit the following week.
The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder went on to pitch in 16 games as a sophomore this past spring. Brown was 1-0 with a 4.87 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 12 walks in 20 1/3 frames of work.
Brown debuted in relief during the season opener against Cincinnati tossing two perfect innings with three strikeouts featuring his slider, change-up and fastball that tops out at 93 MPH.
“I was pretty nervous going to the pen,” Brown said. “Luckily, I had a little while to calm it down while I was in there. Once I came out everything was smooth and exciting. It was a lot of fun.”
Brown also started one game against South Alabama.
He discovered that pitching in the Southeastern Conference was much more challenging than any level he has faced during his career.
“It’s a huge difference,” Brown said. “In juco you can get away with fastballs down the middle and not locate as well. Here you’ve got to have your best stuff every night, compete and not take any pitches off.”
Brown believes he benefited by working with MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson for the past year.
“One of my favorite things is he challenges you a lot mentally,” Brown said. “That’s something that you don’t get a lot from coaches. That helps you grow a lot as a player and I really like that.”
Brown is spending his summer pitching in the prestigious Cope Cod League for the Cotuit Kettleers. He has hurled in eight outings including seven starts and is 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 17 walks in 33 2/3 innings.