Bohnenkamp: Brody Brecht Flashing High-End Potential

Iowa Freshman Hitting Triple Digits This Spring

The first pitch from Iowa’s Brody Brecht in Saturday’s game against Purdue was a strike.

The scoreboard then flashed with the speed of the pitch.

100.

It’s why you tend to sit a little forward in your seat, pay a little more attention when Brecht is pitching.

You don’t see a lot of pitchers in college baseball with that kind of velocity, certainly not from a freshman who has commanded plenty of attention since he arrived on campus.

When you can throw with that kind of heat, people are going to watch.

When you might be catching passes at Kinnick Stadium this fall to go along with that kind of talent, you’re really going to draw interest.

Brecht is a two-sport athlete, balancing time between baseball and football.

And even when the scoreboard is flashing 100, there’s that feeling that the best is yet to come.

So that’s why it’s been fun to watch his development this season on the baseball field.

We haven’t seen it yet in football — Brecht missed summer workouts last year as he finished his high school baseball career, and then a thumb injury suffered early in fall camp set him so far back the rest of the fall was about playing catch-up.

But we have seen it in his appearances out of the bullpen for the Hawkeyes. He’s 1-3 with a 2.45 earned run average. He has struck out 42 in 22 innings, allowing just 12 hits, all but one of those singles.

There are numbers, though, that show he is still a work in progress. He’s given up 21 walks, and leads the Hawkeyes with eight wild pitches.

“When I’m in the (strike) zone, I’m very confident, especially when I establish my fastball,” Brecht said in an interview last month. “The biggest part for me was just finding my tempo, my rhythm, whether it be the windup or the stretch. Just trying to find some consistency.”

That lack of consistency that Brecht has had at times this season could be seen in his one inning of work against the Boilermakers. He struck out designated hitter C.J. Valdez to open the inning — the called third strike coming on a 99 mph fastball — then struck out Cam Thompson.

But Brecht gave up a double to Troy Viola on a misplayed fly ball, then two wild pitches allowed Viola to score. Brecht walked Paul Toetz, then had a throwing error on a pickoff attempt before getting Ryan Howe on a fly out to end the inning.

Brecht threw 25 pitches, with 13 for strikes.

“People can hit the velo, so you have to be in the strike zone,” Brecht said last month. “In high school, you get a lot more chases out of the zone. The college hitters can read it a lot better.”

Brecht’s dedication to the two-sport plan has impressed his coaches.

“This was his goal, this was his dream,” wide receiver coach Kelton Copeland said early in spring practice. “He knew it was going to be tough — obviously he didn’t know how tough it was going to be until he’s in the situation now.”

That dedication is going to continue into the summer. Brecht could have gone to the Cape Cod League, one of the premier summer leagues for college baseball players. But he will stay in Iowa City, going through summer workouts with the football team, while playing baseball for the Clinton LumberKings in the Prospect League. Clinton is just a 90-mile drive from Iowa City, and the league’s strict pitch-count rules mean he doesn’t have to be with the LumberKings every day.

Copeland raved about Brecht’s ability, and said he could see time at receiver this fall.

No matter the venue, Brecht will be commanding attention.

The best, it seems, is ahead.

>>> READ MORE: MLB home runs are way down so far in 2022; here’s how the league’s recent tinkering deadened the baseball

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