Brent Gibbs has taken a winding road to success on the baseball diamond, but on Friday it all paid off for the 2013 Alton High grad.
Gibbs, a 21-year-old catcher, was selected with the 225th pick in the seventh round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I've been waiting on this for 21 years and I can't even describe the feeling,” Gibbs said. “I don't even know how to put it into words, it was the coolest thing ever. Once I heard my name it was like 1,000 pounds had been taken off my shoulders.”
Gibbs just completed his sophomore season at Central Arizona College, a junior college powerhouse program, where he batted .396 with 5 homers and 38 RBIs. He also produced a .497 on base percentage and a .590 slugging percentage.
His road to Arizona came via a detour through Indiana University. Gibbs signed a scholarship with the Hoosiers coming out of Alton, but had trouble getting on the field there. He endured some nagging injuries and had to sit behind current Chicago Cub Kyle Schwarber when he first arrived.
He transferred to Central Arizona College this past season so he wouldn't have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, but has a scholarship on the table to go to USC next season also.
Gibbs admitted he's got a decision ahead of him, whether he's going to the Trojans or signing with the Pirates, but he's definitely leaning toward the professional route.
“USC has given me an awesome opportunity next year and it's a great school academically and the baseball standpoint, but I've been in school for three years now, I think I'm ready to start my professional career now,” Gibbs said. “I think I'm mature enough now mentally and physically, so that's what I'm leaning on.”
Gibbs became the second straight former Redbird to be taken in the MLB Amateur Draft. Bryan Hudson was selected in the third round by the Chicago Cubs in 2015 as a phenom lefty pitcher, directly following his senior season at AHS. He's enjoying a torrid start to his professional career in the minors for the Cubs.
For Alton head coach Todd Haug, it's a very surreal feeling to see two of his former standouts selected in consecutive drafts. He's like a proud papa.
“We couldn't be happier for Brent,” Haug said. “It's funny, we look back on that 2013 season and the team we had, we didn't know that in that sectional game pitching against Moline that we had a battery that was a third rounder on the mound and a seventh rounder behind the plate. It's also interesting with Gibby playing ball out in Arizona that he's had an opportunity to be with Bryan quite a bit and they are very close. We couldn't be happier for Brent, he has worked tremendously hard to get to where he's at and hasn't exactly had the easiest travels.”
Gibbs, who hit .412 with 2 homers and 33 RBIs, along with a whopping 20 doubles, during his senior season with the Birds, looks back on his time at Alton fondly. He admitted he nor Hudson even fathomed where baseball would take them during that successful 2013 campaign.
He hadn't had the opportunity to talk to Hudson directly after the draft on Friday, but he quipped now that they are members of rival organizations in the National League Central Division they are kind of enemies anyway.
“It's pretty cool to know we had two top 10 rounders on that (2013) team,” Gibbs said. “I haven't talked to him yet, but I'm sure I'll be seeing him soon because he's in town. I'll see him soon, but we're probably (enemies) a little bit now.”