Brandon Michael Mann
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 200 lb.
- High School Mt. Rainier High School
- Debut May 13, 2018
Brandon Mann signed to play in Japan in 2011 despite never having moved beyond AA. He was called up to the majors in 2018, 16 years after having first been drafted, and made his debut on May 13th a few days shy of his 34th birthday.
Mann was taken by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 27th round of the 2002 amateur draft; the scout was Paul Kirsch. He made his pro debut with the Princeton Devil Rays, going 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA and walking 14 in 18 1/3 IP. In 2003, the lefty split time between Princeton (4-2, 4.29) and the Hudson Valley Renegades (0-2, 6.97). The next year, Brandon was 5-5 with a 3.38 ERA for Hudson Valley, having cut his walk rate significantly, with 18 in 72 innings.
Moving up to the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays in 2005, Mann was 10-11 with a 3.81 ERA. He struggled at 4-9, 5.64 ERA for the 2006 Visalia Oaks. He sat out baseball in 2007. Returning in 2008 with the Vero Beach Devil Rays, he was only 3-12 with a 4.82 ERA. He allowed the most runs (88) in the Florida State League and was second in losses, one behind Ivan Nova. He tied Heath Rollins for the most losses of a Tampa Bay minor leaguer.
With the 2009 Montgomery Biscuits, Mann was 7-9 with a save and a 4.44 ERA, allowing only six home runs in 125 2/3 IP. A free agent, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Assigned to the Inland Empire 66ers, he went 3-0 with a save, 4.12 ERA and .317 opponent average in 37 outings. He was 37-52 with a 4.52 ERA in 182 minor league games when the Yokohama BayStars signed him for 2011. He was not called up from the minors until late August, but did well in 12 late-season outings at 1-1, 1.16 with a .226 opponent average. Yokohama kept him around for another year. In 2012, he was used as a starter by Yokohama and went 2-8, 5.32.
After being out of professional baseball in 2013, he began a comeback in 2014 in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, going 1-4, 2.91 in 14 games for the AA Altoona Curve. However, he was released mid-year and wound up nearby, with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League, where he was 2-2, 4.09 in 20 games. In 2015, he played in a different independent league, the American Association, where he was 7-10, 4.07 in 22 games as a starter. Most impressive were his 157 strikeouts in 143 2/3 innings. That earned him another shot at organized baseball, now in the Oakland Athletics organization. However, injuries limited him to 13 games in 2016 when he went 4-4, 4.38 for three different teams. In 2017, he moved back to the bullpen for the Midland RockHounds of the Midwest League, going 3-8, 4.40 in 46 games with 2 saves. He seemed as far away from the Show as ever, although he continued to post a good strikeout rate, with 81 Ks in 75 2/3 innings.
2018 turned out to be the year he finally made it to the majors. It was likely his last shot, as he had got married in the off-season and was starting to think seriously about his post-career options. He had moved to the Texas Rangers' organization in the off-season after being signed after working out at Tim Lincecum's training facility in the Pacific Northwest that winter. He was assigned to the AAA Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League to start the season. One of his teammates there was Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who had finally made it to the Show the year before after years of toiling in the bushes and encouraged him to persevere. Until then, he had pitched just one game at that level, a start with the Nashville Sounds of the PCL in 2016. This time though, everything seemed to click. In his first 12 games and 17 1/3 innings, he posted a minute 1.04 ERA. On May 13th, he received the call anyone not as dedicated as him would have logically stopped expecting, as the Rangers brought him up to the big leagues to replace rookie Yohander Mendez. In his debut against the Houston Astros that day, he gave up just one hit in 1 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss. On the Rangers, he joined up with Tony Barnette, who was a mound opponent back when the two were playing high school baseball in the Seattle, WA area, and who had also seen his route to the majors go through Japan.
- T.R. Sullivan: "Mann makes debut 16 years after being drafted: Lefty has pitched in 342 pro games during his road to the Majors", mlb.com, May 13, 2018.