Kansas City Royals' Brady Singer reminisces about College World Series experience

KC starter helped lead Florida to national title

Lynn Worthy
The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Royals pitcher Brady Singer (51) helped Florida win its only baseball national championship in the 2017 College World Series.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For three years Kansas City Royals fans have had their eyes on pitcher Brady Singer. First, he was the intriguing top draft pick. Then, the highly touted prospect. Now, the young pitcher who is brimming with potential trying to establish himself in the majors.

Before Singer became a focal point of the Royals organization and their fan base, he'd already made a name for himself on a national stage.

The right-hander from Leesburg, Florida first rose to prominence as a pitcher for the University of Florida in the College World Series on the way to the program's only national championship in 2017.

"The whole team was hard-nosed players that didn't really give a dang what anybody said," Singer said in a recent interview with The Star. "We were going out there to win. Didn't matter who was on the field, who we had. We had no doubts in our mind that we could beat anybody out there.

"We had a pitching staff that was unbelievable. Jackson Kowar was part of that staff, Alex Faedo. We had a closer that was unbelievable. Michael Byrne, he's with the Reds now. All those guys, the whole staff was unbelievable."

While the Royals selected Singer 18th overall and Kowar 33rd in the 2018 MLB Draft, their teammate Jonathan India, a third baseman, went fifth overall in the same draft and Faedo went 18th in the 2017 draft to the Detroit Tigers.

"There just wasn't a place that we were lacking on the whole entire field," Singer said. "Even if we were, it didn't really matter. We were going out there to win, and we had no doubts in our mind."

Singer made two starts at the 2017 College World Series, went 2-0, pitched a combined 14 innings and registered 21 strikeouts to earn a spot on the 2017 All-Tournament Team.

He finished in electrifying style with 12 strikeouts against LSU in Game 1 of the CWS finals. His 12 strikeouts set a CWS finals single-game record and are the most by a Florida pitcher in CWS history.

"Going into it, the confidence was high," Singer said. "Everybody on the team had confidence. We weren't cocky or arrogant or anything like that. For some reason, everybody knew at the same time that we were good enough to win this thing and it didn't matter who we went out there and played.

"It was just an incredible group of guys, and that helped me on the mound — to know who I've got behind me. The catcher I had at the time, Mike Rivera, was unbelievable. It was just a team that gave me a lot of confidence. It was super easy to go out there and do what I did."

The 2015 recruiting class that included outfielder Daniel Reyes, infielder Deacon Liput, left-hander Hunter Bowling, India, Kowar and Singer among others earned Collegiate Baseball's No. 1 ranking as the best in the nation.

Before they stepped on campus, the goal of bringing home the program's first national championship had been established. Singer said it was part of the recruiting pitch, and they knew from the moment they enrolled that they'd have a chance to make history there together.

"To do it and all the emotions that are brought after we won when we were out there on the field dog-piling — I mean, we talked about it, so once it was done, it was just super cool," Singer said. "Us and the coaches just shared a moment. This is what we came here to do, and we did it."

The success of 2017 propelled several of the players into the national spotlight the following year as they had five preseason All-Americans going into 2018 with Singer, Kowar, Byrne, India and JJ Schwarz all honored.

Singer went on to have as decorated a season as any player in program history as a junior in 2018 with national Player of the Year awards from Baseball America and D1baseball.com, the the Dick Howser Trophy given to the collegiate player of the year, ABCA National Pitcher of the Year and SEC Pitcher of the Year.

As an in-state kid who helped lead the Gators to victory in the College World Series for the first time, that's the memory that will follow him for decades regardless of his individual accolades.

"I'm still hearing about it to this day," Singer said of winning a title with the Gators. "I've heard about it here in Kansas City. I've heard about it everywhere. There's Gator fans everywhere. It was obviously something brought to the program that was really big, their first championship.

"It's something that Gator fans will remember forever. Hopefully, they win a heck of a lot more. But as of now, I get it everywhere. It's super cool."