PERKINSTON — Brandon Parker was sitting on his porch at home with his family when he got the news he'd been dreaming of for so long.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast slugger was picked Tuesday in MLB Draft. He was selected in the 10th round with the 307th overall pick by his favorite team, the Atlanta Braves.
"It's a dream come true," Parker said. "You work for that every time you go to the field, every time you take a swing. That's your ultimate goal. I couldn't be happier. I'm pumped."
Parker was the first player who played at an MACJC school this year to be selected in the draft. He's the 31st Gulf Coast player picked in the MLB Draft. He worked out for the Braves recently.
"He's done his thing for two years for us, and put up the numbers he's put up and gotten the accolades he's received. It's more than well deserved," Gulf Coast coach Rodney Batts said. "He's worked for this. It's every kid's dream to play professional baseball, and now he has the opportunity."
His achievements at Gulf Coast are eye-popping. He was the 2018 NJCAA Division II Player of the Year, and he helped the NJCAA team at the NBC World Series finished a best-ever second.
Parker was an NJCAA All-American and named to the All-Region 23 and All-MACJC teams last year, when he smashed the school home run record with 24. He led the country with 81 RBIs and batted .424, narrowly missing an MACJC triple crown.
He finished his Bulldog career with a .394 average, having slugged 38 homers and driven in 129 runs. He reached base more than 50 percent of the time in his two seasons.
"When I was in high school, I was nowhere near the player I am today," Parker said. "I'm thankful to Coach Batts for giving me the opportunity to play for Gulf Coast and to develop me and work on my hitting. I went from a hitter that had four home runs with a low-.300 batting average to where I am today. It's all because of Coach Batts. He really helped me fix everything in my swing that wasn't right. He's a real leader, and I'm thankful for what he did for the team and me. It's easy to be successful in the environment that Coach Batts creates. He puts his heart into us, and we do the same for him."
Parker signed with NCAA Division I Dallas Baptist last fall, and his younger brother Tate, who starred at West Harrison High School as a senior this year. It sounds like there may only be one Parker on the roster in Dallas next year.
"I'm gonna talk with my family about it, but I really want to start playing ball for the Braves," Brandon said. "That's been my dream since I was a little kid. It's hard to turn that down when there's so many people that want to see you do good. It's a win-win because you get to go to Dallas Baptist or to the Braves, but this is an opportunity you just can't pass up."
He'll always have blue and gold in his heart, though.
"I'm thankful for all the opportunities my coaches and teammates have given me, but also Mississippi Gulf Coast in general," Parker said. "They have given me more than I could ever ask for and pushed me and helped me every step along the way."
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