The ink was barely dry on the contract when Brandon Dulin stepped into the Journal’s office June 10 with smile a mile long and eyes beaming from happiness.
Dulin, who recently completed his first season as a member of the baseball team at Metropolitan Community College-Longview, was selected in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball annual first-year player draft by the Kansas City Royals.
The 2011 graduate of Lee’s Summit North High School was taken as the 354th player overall in a draft class that ran 1,216-players deep and lasted 40 rounds. Dulin officially signed with the Royals the morning of June 10, and will depart June 12 for Arizona to begin his professional career.
“It’s funny because in the fall, nobody looked at me,” Dulin said of his selection June 8. “In the beginning of spring, nobody looked at me. I’d say about two months ago, this one (professional scout) showed up, and then after that a whole bunch of guys started coming around. At that point – I’d say about two weeks ago, three weeks ago – I was really for sure I was getting drafted.”
Dulin was named player of the year for Region 16 of the National Junior College Athletic Association after a breakout season with MCC-Longview. He was tied for third place in the NJCAA Division II for home runs with 13. He led the team in most offensive categories including doubles (17), RBIs (57), batting average (.376), slugging percentage (.727) and on-base plus slugging (1.177).
Dulin’s 12th-round selection made him the highest drafted Metropolitan Community College baseball player in history. The MCC-Longview Lakers’ and the MCC-Maple Woods Monarchs’ rosters have included a number of players who have gone on to the big leagues, including perennial all-star slugger and possible future Hall-of-Fame player Albert Pujols.
“A lot of times our offense went as he went,” said Clint Culbertson, the baseball head coach at MCC-Longview. “The team had a good offensive year, so... He scared a lot of guys into some walks. He was good for us in the middle of the order.”
Named by Baseball America – the unofficial bible for amateur baseball – as the best non-pitcher prospect in Missouri because of his left-handed power potential, Dulin will report to a mini-camp in Arizona before a move to one of the Royals low-level minor league teams scattered throughout the country.
A right-handed throwing first baseman in college, Dulin may switch to the outfield as a professional. Position switch or not, the 6-foot-3 inch, 225 pound power hitter is ready for the journey that awaits representing his hometown organization.
“Man, it’s incredible,” he said. “You get to stay at home. Just to get picked up is a dream, but to get picked up by the home team is just – I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Words can’t explain it, I guess you’d say.”
Although contract details were undisclosed, Dulin said negotiations with the Royals were fair, and the organization will pick up the cost for the three years of college Dulin has left.
All of this after Dulin sat out the 2011-2012 season at Missouri Valley College in Marshall after he graduated high school. Two days into fall practice there, Dulin said he knew Missouri Valley was not the place for him.
“I redshirted my freshman year at Missouri Valley,” Dulin said of his decision to return to Lee’s Summit and attend MCC-Longview. “I just wasn’t happy with the program. I actually came back home and talked to coach Culbertson and joined the program.”
Culbertson didn’t mind the unsuspecting addition to his program.
“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Culbertson said of Dulin, who joined the team in August of last year. “We had recruited him out of high school and he decided to go someplace else. I was teaching a summer class and saw this big dude walk in and I was like, ‘hmmm, that dude looks like an athlete.’
“I looked at the (class) roster and it was him, and we got to talking and he said he was coming back, and I said ‘yeah, I’ll take you back.’ He did, and as they say, that’s how it goes.”
What’s next for Dulin’s career is anyone’s guess, but ask the 20-year-old himself and he’ll tell you his ultimate goal.
“I’m trying to make it to the show,” he said of his dream to play major league ball. “I’m trying to make it to the top and be the best that I can be.”