TORONTO - All Brad Glenn wanted was a chance.
He didn’t have an agent, a financial wizard and a living room full of advisors when he was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009.
The Jays selected the Arizona University outfielder in the 23rd round, 700th over-all in North America.
Jays scout Dan Cholowsky gave Glenn a four-figure signing bonus within a week of the draft.
“My bonus? One thousand dollars,” Glenn said after arriving with the Dunedin Blue Jays in Bradenton on Wednesday. “So after taxes? Six hundred dollars maybe? I don’t know? But that was OK. I was just happy to get the chance.”
Glenn’s final two years at Arizona were hampered by injury: he had wrist surgery in 2007 and was selected in the 17th round by the Oakland A’s.
His senior year he was sitting on a glass coffee table in a dorm room playing Mario Kart with his buddies. He stood, then sat down and the glass shattered cutting his hand for 40 stitches.
Still, he managed 43 homers in four years at Arizona and all he wanted was a chance.
Auburn manager Dennis Holmberg gave him one (“he always called me John Glenn rather than Brad Glenn, I think he was saying it wrong on purpose,”) and he hit eight homers in 2009, 17 a year ago at Lansing and he had 11 going into Wednesday’s game, including six in the previous 10 games.
And they are not back-of-the-fence paint scrapers.
The right fielder hit a ball over the batter’s eye in centre at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium against Chad James of the Jupiter Hammerheads on Sunday.
Dunedin manager Clayton McCullough said “Darold Knowles has been here six years as pitching coach, that’s the first he’s seen one hit there.”
We’ve been to Dunedin every spring since 1985, save this spring, and can only recall Fred McGriff and Carlos Delgado going over the batter’s eye.
It’s 400 feet, plus the batter’s eye which is higher than 20 feet.
The distance is not 483 feet like centre at the Polo Grounds. But in the spring the winds swirl, in the summer — for night games — the air is heavy and most venues are spring training homes to major-league teams.
The score was tied Sunday in the fifth when re-habbing Jayson Nix singled, former No. 1 pick Kevin Ahrens homered over the trees beyond the left field fence, Glenn went over the batter’s eye on an 0-2 count and John Talley deposited a James 0-2 pitch onto the roof of the Jays offices well beyond the right field fence.
Looking at home run leaders since 1978, not once has the minor league’s top slugger come from the Florida State League.
Glenn thinks his best blast, or “the one the guys in the bullpen talk about most” was against Clearwater’s Jarred Cosart, a drive over the scoreboard in left centre.
“It’s hard to find the raw power and strength he has,” said manager McCullough. “He’s on a good tear right now. The question is how well he adjusts and doing it for a whole season.
“We’re trying to get him into a position where he has less time scuffling.”
Hitting coach Ralph Dickenson is working with Glenn on finding a swing “which will play at this level and up the ladder.”
Glenn was an all-state, two-sport star growing up in Tulsa. His Tulsa Union Redskins beat the hated Jenks Trojans (Glenn a fullback and tight end) for the state title in football and knocked off the hated Owasso Rams (Glenn played first when he was not closing) in baseball.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder looks like a slugger and swings like one too.
“He won’t do it the way Jose Bautista does it,” McCullough said. “Last year in Lansing he showed some power and he’s a better outfielder than you’d think he would be.”
Glenn credits Jays roving minor league instructor Anthony Iapoce, a hit at the annual Baseball Ontario Best Ever Clinic in Toronto this off-season, for improving his swing a year ago.
What if the Jays or someone else had not drafted him?
“I’d gone back to school, finished the few courses I was short,” Glenn said. “And looked for a job in regional development.”
All he wanted was a chance.
He’s earned more than that.