Brebbia Shining On The Mound
July 13, 2011 Leave a comment
By Greg Joyce
For every player in the Cape Cod Baseball League, getting to start and play baseball every night is an honor. But for John Brebbia (Elon), each start means something more, every inning pitch holds extra importance and the pitcher understands how special it is to be playing on the Cape.
If you look at the Firebirds roster, you’d see that Brebbia is officially from Sharon, Mass. What many people don’t know, though, is that Brebbia grew up spending his summers in Chatham. He grew up as a fan attending all the Cape League games, and now that he gets to pitch every week, he’s on the other side of everything.
“I grew up watching these games, and I was always that little kid running on to the field after games to get autographs,” Brebbia said with a huge smile on his face. “And now little kids coming up and doing that to me, it’s surreal.
“But it’s really exciting. I love having family here. Gosh, you come out and you pitch against the best competition, it’s exhilarating. It’s great.”
The righty who attends Elon University started the season out of the bullpen for the Orleans Firebirds, but has now started three games, and Brebbia seems comfortable taking on more innings.
“It’s been pretty good,” Brebbia said of the transition to starting. “I feel more and more comfortable with it every time I pitch. Like a lot of these guys, I used to start in high school. So I feel fairly comfortable with it, I just haven’t done it in a while. But I’m having no problem with it. I’m enjoying it. I love pitching in general, so whether it’s starting or relieving, it’s going to be fun no matter what.”
That attitude of having fun on the mound has gone a long way for Brebbia, who had his best start of the season on Tuesday night. He threw five innings of one-run ball in the Firebirds’ 3-1 win over Hyannis, going 4.2 innings before allowing his first hit.
As is the case with most successful pitchers, Brebbia was in the zone all night, not even knowing he hadn’t allowed a hit until Hyannis finally got its first base knock.
“I actually didn’t even realize it until the kid did get the hit and I heard a bunch of cheering from [Hyannis’] dugout, and I looked up at the scoreboard and I was like, ‘Oh, that was their first hit,’” Brebbia said with a grin. “Cause as a pitcher, you focus on every pitch throwing as best as you can. You hear about pitchers being in the zone and stuff like that, and that’s what I was doing. I was zoned in. I was throwing the right pitch every time, and until the kid got the hit, I honestly didn’t even realize.”
The key to Brebbia’s success all night was getting ahead in the count early on batters, so that he could mix in his offspeed pitches and pick his locations. Brebbia has been working on a slider with assistant coach Jason Brown so far this season, and the results have been very positive. The slider compliments Brebbia’s fastball, giving him the ability to fool batters when up in the count to record outs.
“I thought he was outstanding,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said of his starter after Tuesday night’s game. “He was really good. I was really proud of him. He works hard. He commands that fastball. His slider is really coming along. I know he’s really worked hard with [assistant coach Jason Brown] on that. And that hard work is paying off.”
Brebbia is now 1-1 on the season with a 1.90 ERA. In 19 innings pitched, the 2011 New York Yankees’ 30th round draft pick has struck out 16, and impresses everyone who gets the chance to see him throw.
Statistics aside though, Brebbia knows there’s a more important meaning to each game. After Tuesday night’s game, Brebbia got to enjoy the win with his family on the field.
Following the team meeting, he was in the dugout collecting his belongings while asking Nicholson when he could watch tape of his mechanics so he could make some improvements.
Then, on his walk to the clubhouse in the outfield, he met with his dad and his two dogs, and had another conversation. It was likely about baseball, but that’s not what mattered. What mattered was that Brebbia got to savor the win by spending it with family members, who were with him all those summers he spent watching from the lawn chairs and blankets.
He may be just ten years removed from being another face in the crowd at Cape League games, but now Brebbia is the one on the diamond, living the dream. He is in the spotlight, and making the most of it. He is always looking to improve himself, and has an impressive work ethic. And most importantly, with his family always at his games to cheer him on, John Brebbia is enjoying every second of his Cape League experience. He wouldn’t have it any other way.