Alcorn State hasn’t had a player selected in the MLB draft since 2015. It also has been 35 years since an Alcorn State player appeared in the major leagues. Alcorn senior outfielder Brandon Rembert hopes to snap those two streaks soon, though.
Rembert, who hails from Pensacola, Florida, has had a passion for baseball from a very young age.
“I’ve played since I was 3 or 4 years old, and my older brother always played, so it’s always been baseball,” Rembert said. “It’s just a passion and a love.”
That love for the game has inspired him to chase his dream of hearing his name called in the draft. But there have been plenty of twists and turns throughout his baseball career that have elongated his journey.
He wasn’t highly ranked as a high school prospect, limiting his options following his high school career. Perfect Game listed him as the 377th overall player and 71st overall outfielder out of high school in 2016. Rembert didn’t agree with that ranking, though, and used it as motivation.
“It definitely drove me,” he said. “I didn’t go to a whole lot of big events when I was in high school, but I still felt like I had more potential than people thought I had.”
Being overlooked is just one of numerous factors that motivates Rembert.
“Being a shorter guy pushes me too,” he said. “They (MLB organizations) all want the big, strong guys, but look at Mookie Betts right now. He is one of the best players in the game and is now making $300 million. It’s about skill, not size, for me.”
Rembert took those chips on his shoulder with him to Faulkner University, an NAIA school in Alabama, for his freshman season of college in 2017. Faulkner was an important step in Rembert’s career.
“I started to come into my own and started to figure out my potential,” he said.
Faulkner is a respectable NAIA program that regularly attracts Division I transfers with great tools and potential. He attended college a year earlier than he initially expected and played against quality competition, which helped him develop his skills.
“I went into college as a 17-year-old because I have a pretty late birthday for my grade, and realized that I could hang with these big guys,” he said.
It was this realization that allowed Rembert to challenge himself and make the leap to Division I baseball. After spending a year at Faulkner and his sophomore year at a junior college in Alabama, Rembert made the jump to college baseball’s high level. He committed to Alcorn State due to the program’s strong interest in him and the opportunities to contribute immediately.
“Alcorn State had been following me since high school, and the coach always stuck with me,” Rembert said. “They were also graduating a lot of outfielders, which gave me the opportunity to start right away.”
Rembert wasted no time turning himself into a star at Alcorn State.
In 2019, Rembert hit .345 with a .462 on-base percentage. He also hit nine doubles and three home runs while drawing 29 walks.
The success he experienced his junior season gave him high hopes entering his senior year this spring. He felt a strong year would likely bolster his draft stock and allow him to accomplish his ultimate goal. But his senior season didn’t go as he envisioned, as it was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was so quick,” said Rembert on the cancelation of his senior year. “I didn’t know what to think or what to do.”
The shortened season impacted players like Rembert the most. While high-end draft prospects didn’t falter in draft projections, players like Rembert, who didn’t have the track record against elite college competition, suffered. The short season took away another opportunity for Rembert to showcase his skills and potential.
It left Rembert in a difficult position, especially since major league baseball cut the draft from its typical 40 rounds to just five rounds.
“I didn’t know how the draft was going to look and it was a big waiting game for me,” he said.
Rembert didn’t hear his name called in June’s draft. He had to decide if he was going to sign as an undrafted free agent or return to school for another year in hopes of building up his draft value for next year.
“I decided I was going to go back (to Alcorn State) about a day or two after the draft,” he said. “There weren’t a whole bunch of free agent offers, and I didn’t get drafted. I talked with a lot of scouts, and they told me to go back to school and see what happens.”
For Rembert, his journey to trying to accomplish his childhood dream will continue next spring. The shutdown has given him time to refine his skills in hopes of becoming a better all-around player that major league teams will consider selecting in the draft next year.
“Over the break, I worked on every part of my game,” he said. “As a corner outfielder, I need to hit for more power, so I worked on getting stronger and hitting for power. I worked on getting faster, and I’ve been long tossing to get my arm stronger.”
Rembert’s dream of hearing his name called in the draft is still in play. Although his amateur career hasn’t gone exactly like he envisioned, Rembert is ready to prove that his belongs in baseball long-term.
“My best case scenario is to get drafted,” he said. “If I get called in those first 20 rounds next year, I’ll sign and take that as a blessing. As a fifth-year senior, it’s kind of tough for me.”