Many a Little Leaguer has dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Ben Brutti certainly did.
“My whole life, it was always my goal to get drafted and play in the MLB,” Brutti said. “In like fifth grade, when the teacher asks what you want to be when you grow up, I always said I was going to be a professional baseball player. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind. I kind of manifested it into happening.”
The reality is there for the taking now, after Brutti was selected in the Major League Baseball draft on Tuesday. The South Kingstown native was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the 11th round.
“It was awesome,” Brutti said. “I was in the car with my dad, and we just heard, ‘Cincinnati Reds select Ben Brutti.’ It was one of the best moments of my life – something I dreamed of and worked really hard for. It’s cool to see everything pay off.”
Brutti has been in Florida for part of the summer, taking summer courses at the University of South Florida, his college commitment. He could still become a Bull if he chooses, but the draft has opened up a door into professional baseball. Brutti and his adviser will negotiate with the Reds in the next few days. The signing deadline is Aug. 1.
“We’re just working it out right now with the Reds,” Brutti said. “We’ll see what happens after we work out the details.”
Brutti is coming off a spectacular senior season at South Kingstown High School. He didn’t pitch for the Rebels as a junior due to a back injury that kept him sidelined for the entirety of the abbreviated spring season. He lit up radar guns at showcase events in the subsequent months and signed with South Florida. Velocity gains continued through the winter, and when Brutti toed the rubber on a cold March day for a scrimmage in Stonington, Connecticut, a line of scouts stood behind the backstop.
The scouting contingent remained a constant presence at every start, and Brutti gave them plenty of material. En route to Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year honors, he delivered a dominant season. He went 8-1 on the mound with a 0.46 ERA, striking out a whopping 105 batters in 46 innings pitched and walking only 11.
The Reds were one of the teams whose scouts saw all of it.
“Before the draft, they called me and said they wanted to draft me,” Brutti said. “They followed me the whole year. I knew they were one of the teams that was the most interested.”
Brutti’s family came down for the week of the draft and they all watched the first two rounds together on Sunday night. There was potential for a draft call on day two, which covered rounds three through 10, but it didn’t pan out.
“There were some possibilities Monday, but I knew there was still more opportunities for it to happen,” Brutti said.
There wasn’t much of a wait on Tuesday. The 11th round was the first of the day, and Brutti was the 17th pick of the round, 333rd overall. He was driving back to the hotel from USF, with the draft broadcast playing on a phone.
“I knew about 10 minutes before, and then hearing it was really cool,” he said.
Brutti was one of 15 pitchers drafted by the Reds. He’s excited about the potential to join the organization.
“It’s a great organization,” he said. “Their whole pitching development is really great, through the minor leagues. It’s definitely an exciting team to get drafted by.”
Brutti is the highest draft pick from the Rhode Island high school ranks since Portsmouth’s Ryan Westmoreland was taken by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.
Brutti’s selection makes it two years in a row that a South Kingstown native has been drafted. Liam McGill was picked in the ninth round last year out of Bryant University. Brutti is just the second player to be drafted directly out of South Kingstown High School, joining Liam’s older brother, Shawn McGill, who was a 45th-round pick in 2002.