Occidental College pitcher Brooks Belter '11, an economics major from Lakeville, Conn., was drafted in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays June 7.
"I couldn't be happier for him," Oxy head coach Jason Hawkins said. "He's worked so hard to get to this point and has made major improvements in his mental game over the last 18 months. We're all very proud of this opportunity that Brooks has earned."
Belter is now a member of the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Ray's single-A team in Fishkill, New York -- close enough to home that his family will finally have the chance to see him play.
Although at least six teams scouted him this year, and he had heard through the grapevine that he might be drafted in one of the final rounds, Belter said the announcement still came as a surprise.
"When I saw my name go up, I couldn't quite believe it. I asked my girlfriend to check and make sure that was actually me. It was definitely a surprise," he said. "Then my phone and my Facebook blew up" with friends and family calling and posting their congratulations.
This spring, the right-hander lead the Tigers with five saves and recorded 43 strikeouts in 31 innings. He posted a 1.45 ERA and held opposing batters to a .183 batting average. Playing for the Torrington Titans of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League last summer, Belter made 11 appearances in relief with a 1-1 record, 26 strikeouts, and a 1.37 ERA.
"Robbie Moen with the Rays did a great job of getting out and seeing Brooks and finding out as much as he could--not just how hard he threw. That's why they took him higher than anyone else in the conference," Hawkins said. "They are a tremendous organization and I know that Brooks is excited to be a part of it."
Although he has played baseball since he was 5 years old, Belter said it wasn't until his last two seasons at Oxy, when his top pitch velocity increased from 85 mph to 92 mph, that he began to think he might have a shot at the next level of play. At the top of his list today is developing a changeup to go with his fastball and slider.
Belter was the first of four athletes - all right-handed pitchers - from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference picked thus far in the draft. The others include David Colvin of Pomona-Pitzer, Ian Durham of Cal Lutheran, and Alexander Sunderland of Claremont McKenna.