Our 2017-2018 Winter Feature Star is American Right-Handed Pitcher and Infielder Dylan Brammer who just wrapped up his second consecutive season playing winter-ball for the Port Adelaide Magpies in the South Australia State League (SABL) competition and winning his second consecutive MVP of the league (Capps Medal) leading Port Adelaide to back-to-back championship series. He played for the 3n2 International Stars at Prague Baseball Week for the first time in 2017 and helped lead them to a 4th championship in 5 years through his versatility with pitching, hitting, defense and energy in the dugout. After playing in the Czech Republic for Skokani Olomouc in 2017, he’ll head back state-side where he has signed to play for the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am Independent minor league for the 2018 season. We had a chance to catch-up with Dylan about his whirlwind experiences taking his game overseas where he’s been able to put everything together and become one of the premier international imports over the past couple of years.
Continue below to read his interview –
International Stars (IS): First, can you tell us a bit about your background/story… where did you grow up, where did you play college ball at, what teams have you played for overseas?
Dylan Brammer (DB): I grew up in South Bend, Indiana, miles from the University of Notre Dame. My grandfather was the associate athletic director at the University which gave me the perfect opportunity to see sporting events at a young age. I played baseball, basketball and football regularly until I chose to pursue a career in baseball my freshman year of college. I chose Ancilla College in Donaldson, Indiana, for my first year of college baseball. I hit .420 with 13 extra base hits in 44 games my freshman year of college. I then transferred to Vincennes University for my sophomore year of college. I hit .372 with an on base percentage of .428 and 18 extra base hits in 48 games played. Vincennes University were the 2010 NJCAA Region 12 champs and went on to compete in the NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series in Oklahoma. I then signed with the University of Northwestern Ohio to finish my last two years of college. I combined for a .292 batting average and an ERA of 1.21 and 61 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched.
I signed a contract as a two-way player with the Rockford RiverHawks in the Frontier League after being undrafted in 2012. I never considered myself a great pitcher because I focused all my time and effort on my defense and hitting. I had trouble finding the strike zone early on in my career and was released two months into the season. I attended a tryout for the Pacific Association in 2014 and signed with the Pittsburg Mettle managed under Wayne Franklin and Aaron Miles. I focused all my attention on pitching and trained in Delray Beach, Florida in 2013 so I felt ready to compete as a starting pitcher at the professional level. I became our number one starting pitcher for the next 2 years in Pittsburg, California. Halfway through my 3rd season in Pittsburg, I was traded to the River City Rascals in the Frontier League. My career ERA in California is a 2.4 ERA. I led the league in strikeouts in 2014 and went undefeated 6-0 in 2015. I had a great end of the season with the River City Rascals recording IP 26 2/3rd with 28 Ks. I had one of the best performances of my life in the playoffs against the Southern Illinois Miners. I pitched a complete game shutout with 14 strikeouts, 2 hits and one walk.
Chris Sims messaged me on Facebook a couple weeks after I arrived to O’Fallon, Missouri, asking if I had any interest playing baseball in Southern Australia. I accepted the offer and signed with the Port Adelaide Magpies. I always dreamed of playing baseball overseas and finally had the perfect opportunity. My first season with Port, I finished with a .315 BA and a 2.5 ERA. I was awarded the Capps Medal for being the “best and fairest” player in the South Australian Baseball League during the regular season. My success in Adelaide as a two-way player is the reason why I chose to experience international baseball in Czech Republic. I signed with the Olomouc Jumpers in Extraliga.
I ended the season with a 1.20 ERA and .359 Batting Average. I was awarded the best pitcher in Extraliga for the 2017 Season. 105 IP, 156 Ks, 33Bs, 0.174 BAA and only giving up 9 extra base hits and 14 Earned Runs. I had the second most hits in Extraliga as well. I just finished my 2nd season in South Australia playing for the Port Adelaide Magpies, winning the Capps Medal for a 2nd time and helping lead Port back to the Championship Series. I ended the season with a 1.3 ERA and a .341 BA with 22 Stolen Bases.
IS: How did you first get into playing baseball overseas?
DB: I was in O’Fallon, Missouri, playing with the River City Rascals when Chris Sims contacted me via Facebook messenger. I had just pitched the best game of my Independent baseball career against the Illinois Miners in the Frontier League and shortly after was contacted by Chris. He asked if I was interested in playing baseball in Southern Australia for the Port Adelaide Magpies Baseball Club. This was the perfect opportunity for me to play baseball overseas for the first time.
I also had the pleasure of being coached and mentored by Boomer Prinstein who I credit for getting me into playing baseball overseas. Before I signed with Port, I heard a rumor that a Scout with the Orioles would be around the club for 3-6 months and that he was part of an international baseball community as well. Boomer told me of a team in Olomouc, Czech Republic, that was looking for another two-way player and that I would be playing alongside Max MacNabb.
IS: How would you compare the level of European and Australian baseball to what you were accustomed to playing back in the States?
DB: The Extraliga in Czech Republic and South Australia Baseball League does not compare to the Independent baseball I was playing back in the United States. I would say most top teams in both leagues would be as competitive as an average Division 1 University. Although, I would say I have ran into many talented players across both leagues that I know could have careers in independent baseball.
The level of play back in the US is more intense and professional than the Extraliga and SABL but the club atmosphere of overseas baseball is what makes overseas baseball so much fun.
IS: What are some adjustments that you’ve had to make in our lifestyle or on the field while playing overseas?
DB: I have had to make many adjustments off and on the field while playing overseas. The biggest adjustment was playing only two to four games a week. It was hard for me not to get mad or upset with the dedication of the local players because training and getting better every day is not their number one priority. Off the field, there was plenty of time to train and even more time to explore Australia and Europe during the baseball season. I had to learn how to budget which meant shopping at the local grocery store and learning how to cook for myself. The culture is much different overseas as well. After the game, we shake the opposing teams’ hands as well as share a beer together at the home teams’ club.
IS: Who or what do you credit for your success in your overseas playing career?
DB: I credit my dad and the support of my family for my success in my overseas playing career. My father coached me during T-ball all the way until my senior year of high school. I have seven sisters and three brothers that message me sporadically asking me how I am doing and if I am famous yet overseas. The love and support I continually get from my family and friends give me motivation to continue to get better every day. I also credit Boomer Prinstein for helping me with my pitching mechanics. I finally feel comfortable on the mound which has led to most of my success. He also made it possible for me to play a season in Europe.
IS: Can you tell us about your experience with winning the Capps medal with Port Adelaide, throwing no hitters, and 23 strikeouts. What is your top accomplishment?
DB: I always wanted to experience baseball overseas and winning the Capps Medal of the South Australian Baseball League and being awarded the best pitcher in Extraliga has made my journey overseas that much better. I consider winning the Capps Medal of the SABL last year my top accomplishment. In my first appearance of Extraliga, I threw a complete game against the Ostrava Arrows. I threw 156 pitches and recorded 18 strikeouts in 9 innings. The local newspaper had a picture of me pitching and an article below it describing the game and my performance. I struck out 23 and had three putouts in a game against Olympia. I also struck out 21 in a game against Blansko and 19 in a game against Tempo.I have thrown two no-hitters this season with Port Adelaide and one was one pitch away from a perfect game. I have never thrown a no-hitter so the feeling right after I threw the last pitch was unreal. I thank Alex Carter for catching both my no hitters this year. I don’t know if it could have been possible without him.
IS: Do you have a favorite experience playing baseball overseas?
DB: My favorite experience playing baseball overseas was winning the 2017 Prague Baseball Week Championship. It was great to get together with other imports from all over Europe and compete against the local national teams. We all bonded our first night out in Prague which I believe led to a lot of our success as a team on the field. I will never forget my first game as an International Star and all the memories we shared as a team.
IS: What are some favorite spots you have traveled to?
DB: There are multiple spots I traveled to while playing baseball in Czech Republic. I traveled to Vienna, Bratislava, Paris, Nice, Budapest, Rome, Amsterdam and Prague. Amsterdam, Prague and Budapest are my top three favorite cities in Europe. Prague being my favorite. The history and architecture of Prague make it a beautiful city. Another of my favorite spots I traveled to was Plzen, Czech Republic. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery is located in Plzen and brews my favorite beer in the world. The food at the brewery was amazing as well.
IS: Favorite question we like to ask guys is what kind of music are you listening to or have you discovered while playing abroad.
DB: Hip hop is by far my favorite kind of music. I am currently listening to songs from Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Lil Wayne, 21 Savage, G Herbo, Tory Lanez and many new southern Florida trap artists. Playing overseas I have started to listen to techno since most of the guys are into that type of music. Listening to Lil Uzi Vert before a game has become ritual of mine for the past 2 years.
IS: Can you tell us about your experience with International Stars program?
DB: My experience with the International Stars program has been incredible. 2017 Prague Baseball Week was by far the most memorable week of my baseball career. Everything was well organized by the International Stars Program. It was awesome to be able to catch up with Boomer Prinstein again. I will never forget about our first season together in Adelaide and everything I learned from him. David Burns and I met for the first time during PBW. He has contacted me directly about a few teams overseas that have shown interest in me.