Brandon Kaye gets help from big brother Scott Richmond
*RHP Brandon Kaye (Langley, BC), right, and Eric Brown (Thunder Bay, Ont.), ex-UBC Thunderbirds under coach Terry McKaig and 2011 Vancouver Canadians, Northwest League champs ….
Alexis’ trip to extended spring:
By Alexis Brudnicki
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Brandon Kaye is taking pointers from everyone.
The Toronto Blue Jays farmhand has a strong baseball support system and he is utilizing his resources to the fullest.
The 23-year-old’s roommate last year was Eric Brown, his teammate at the University of British Columbia and with the Vancouver Canadians last season, currently playing for the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts.
“Eric is the best teammate you can ask for,” Kaye said. “He works hard; he works on his own stuff like everybody should to make themselves better, which in turn makes the team better. And he always helps you out.
“When I threw with him last year, if I ever asked him to do any drills with me or if he ever had any pointers, he wouldn’t be afraid to give me any. He’s definitely a great teammate to have; he’s a great guy and I hope to play with him again.”
Another one of his teammates in Vancouver last year, Shane Davis, is still with Kaye at extended spring training in Florida. Kaye compares the southpaw to his friend from UBC.
“He’s the same kind of guy,” the right-hander said. “I’ve thrown with him a lot too. He’s not afraid to give you any pointers that you may need and he’s definitely an easy guy to get along with.”
Helping the righty on and off the field is Kaye’s older brother, – half-brother – Scott Richmond, currently with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s in the same organization.
“He isn’t afraid to give me any advice,” Kaye said. “It sucks because he’s nine years older than me so I’ve never had the chance to play with him at the same level. This is the closest we’ve ever been. He’s been in pro ball for quite some time now so before I even came here he gave me pointers; what to look out for. It made it easier to adjust when I came from college to here.
Richmond helped his younger counterpart in getting ready for the grind of the minor leagues. Switching from collegiate to pro ball, there are a lot of differences in routine, schedule and expectations, but Kaye came in to extended spring training ready for the challenges.
“I’ve been at college for the last four years and I’ve never had a fall off,” he said. “I’m always throwing. The only time I have off is during the winter break and that’s like a month maybe. So I definitely took advantage of the time off [this year].
“My arm was definitely tired at the end of last year so I took all that time, focused on getting strong and came back into the season looking to catch some eyes.”
Kaye caught some looks after going 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA last season with the Canadians. He came out of the bullpen in 17 games and threw 24 2/3 innings. The righty walked as many batters as he struck out (14) and will use his inaugural pro season as another source of learning for the next one.
“My season in Vancouver last year was an eye-opener,” Kaye said. “My first season, I didn’t know what to expect. It was definitely a good season for me. I had some good outings; some bad outings. I’ve always got stuff to work on. This year I think it will be a little bit different for me because I know what to expect.
The biggest thing that the Langley-born pitcher learned last year was how different pitching in class-A ball is than throwing from a college mound.
“It’s definitely different than college ball,” Kaye said. “College baseball is almost like pitching backwards because of the metal bats and the pitching philosophy. You always throw the off-speed first and then establish your fastball after that.
“What the Blue Jays preach is establishing that fastball, throwing strikes and then working off the fastball with your off-speed. It’s definitely something that I’ll be working on.”
Kaye is hoping to be working on his pitches in Vancouver once more this season. Playing near his home and his school, the right-hander has a fan base of his own with the Canadians, something he’s not sure many players get to have.
“Every game there were either family or friends or even just acquaintances,” Kaye said. “People wanted to come up and say hi because they knew I was a local. It was an awesome experience because there was always somebody there every game. I’m sure some of the guys don’t experience that in minor league ball.”
The pitcher’s parents, Linda and Kelly, made it almost every single one of the home games at Nat Bailey Stadium last year and he’s hoping they will get to see him pitch there again. During the playoffs, they were in the front row for every single game, getting to see their son and the Canadians win the Northwest League championship.
“It was really cool,” Kaye said. “The crowd was going crazy. It was nice to win at home because we had such a great crowd all year long and it was nice to win in front of them.”
The Kaye-Richmond household saw a lot of success last year, with Brandon’s team winning a championship trophy and Scott bringing home gold and bronze medals from the World Cup and the Pan Am Games with Team Canada in October.
Though Kaye saw a friend’s gold medal before he saw his brother’s, he was happy to have Richmond home and visiting the family for longer than usual over the winter.
“This past off-season it was nice because he spent a lot of time in Vancouver,” Kaye said. “We did a lot of training together which was a good opportunity because he’s never in Vancouver in the off-season really, other than at Christmas.”
It’s tough for the two brothers to talk much during the season, especially now with opposite schedules between extended spring training and triple-A. Kaye keeps up with what Richmond is doing, watching whatever games he can with the time change between Florida and Las Vegas.
Though he tries to stay close with his family, Kaye doesn’t think that most people even know that he and Richmond are related.
“Actually, people don’t usually know that we’re brothers until somebody says something here, or until I would say something because we’re totally different,” he said. “He’s got the big, bushy eyebrows and I’m a blonde guy. So people don’t really notice until they’re told.”
After watching Richmond come home after a huge October with Team Canada, it gives Kaye even more to aspire to, and the senior national team is something that is fresh on the mind of the younger right-hander.
“I’d love to,” Kaye said. “It would be an opportunity I would be dying to get ahold of. I played with a collegiate Canadian team over in the Czech Republic and in Japan but I would love to go play with the actual men’s senior national team. That would definitely be an experience.”