If you want to pay Tyler Brant a compliment, call him a scrappy player.
“I want to be a scrappy player, just doing things right,” the Riverhead Tomcats right fielder said. “That’s what I want to be.”
Brant has been that and more for the Tomcats. Asked who his hottest player had been heading into the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League playoffs, Tomcats Manager Randy Caden did not hesitate with his answer: Brant.
“He’s turning it on,” Caden said. “He’s hitting the ball better. He’s not striking out as much. He’s making contact.”
Brant has enjoyed a luxury most ACBL players haven’t this season: playing with two college teammates on the Tomcats. He is part of the Tomcats’ Southern Miss triumvirate, which also includes catcher Chase Fowler and second baseman Isaac Rodriguez.
How has the season been for Brant?
“Up and down,” he said. “I’m just glad that we’re winning as a team. Me, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re winning.”
Brant’s regular-season statistics are rather peculiar. Although his batting average was down at .172, he led the Tomcats with 14 runs batted in and was a force on the basepaths, stealing 20 of the 23 bases he bolted for. He was second on the team in steals behind Nathan Pittman’s 24.
“Everybody goes through slumps,” said Brant, who has been moved to the leadoff spot. “If a baseball player tells you he didn’t go through a slump, he’d be lying to you. All that matters at the end of the year is you’re doing your best. I’ve been hitting a lot better, just putting the ball in play more.”
Caden sounds like one of Brant’s biggest fans. “I love him,” the manager said. “He’s a hustler. He’s a good boy, a very good baseball player. He has a lot of tools, good arm, good speed, and he will hit.”
Brant said all he wanted from this summer season was the opportunity to gain more experience and get at-bats.
“Just play every day,” he said. “That’s all I can ask for.”