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Aaron Brooks’ quick ascent through the minors

05/05/2014 6:39 AM

05/04/2014 11:44 PM

Aaron Brooks’ 2011 biography at the Cal State San Bernardino baseball team’s web site notes that his favorite athlete is Torii Hunter.

That may no longer be the case considering Hunter, the Tigers outfielder, hit a booming three-run Saturday night off Brooks in Detroit’s 9-2 victory.

Then again, a lot’s changed in a short amount of time for Brooks.

One year ago Saturday, Brooks threw six scoreless innings for Class A-Advanced Wilmington in a 1-0 Blue Rocks victory. When asked about it before the Royals’ game Saturday, Brooks struggled to recall the outing.

“I think I did alright,” he said. “That seemed to be the highlight of my career in the minor leagues, so far.”

Actually, Brooks threw eight scoreless a couple of weeks later at home against Lynchburg in what was his best performance at Wilmington. That’s probably the game he was thinking of.

But pardon Brooks’ memory problems as he’s had a whirlwind year.

By June of 2013, Brooks was promoted to Class AA Northwest Arkansas after the Royals bumped another prospect to Class AAA Omaha.

“I strung together a few good starts together and they wanted to bring (Yordano) Ventura to Triple-A,” Brooks said, “so they brought me up to fill the spot.”

He finished the year with a 7-7 record and a 4.17 ERA with the Naturals and earned an invitation to big-league camp this past spring.

“I was really fortunate and blessed to be with the team in spring training and given the invite,” Brooks said. “Once I got sent back down, you look around the clubhouse and realize they have guys they can put in spots, so I wasn’t really worried about making this club, because of the guys they already have. So I was ready to go to Omaha and be a starter and help us win there and whatever they need be to do, I’ll do.

“My head is on a swivel right now.”

That’s because Brooks was brought up to the Royals last month, but didn’t pitch. He went back to Omaha, made three starts and got a return call to the Royals. He made his major-league debut Saturday, and after a scoreless eighth inning, the right-hander allowed six in the ninth, including the three-run shot by Hunter.

While the Royals sent Brooks back to Omaha on Sunday, he made a quick jump to the majors. Brooks, who was selected in the ninth round of the 2011 draft, believes his control is something that appeals to the Royals. In 408 1/3 career minor-league innings, Brooks has walked just 60.

“They really preach on throwing strikes, going after guys, not walking anybody and that’s pretty much what I try and go out there to do, force contact and not let the opposing team get any passes to first,” Brooks said. “That should give us a chance to win the game.”

In addition to a four-seam fastball, Brooks throws a change-up, slider and a two-seam sinker mix.

“Some days that’s good, some days it’s moving but it’s just hard to control,” Brooks said of the sinker mix. “The fastball is a good control pitch with the change-up and slider being an out pitch.”

Brooks, who went to high school in San Bernardino joked about completing all of his education, from grade school to college, within about a five-mile radius of his boyhood home. But that doesn’t mean he was a homebody. Brooks said that in high school he was part of the Rays’ scout team that traveled to Australia.

One teammate, Brooks said, was left-hander John Lamb.

“We ended up going there and playing there and what do you know? We got drafted by the same team,” Brooks said. “So that’s pretty cool.”

But not as cool as how things have turned out since both joined the Royals. In the last year, he’s been in four clubhouses: Class A, Class AA, Class AAA and the Royals.

Brooks certainly hasn’t minded splitting time between Omaha and the Royals this season.

“Yeah,” Brooks said with a smile, “I can’t complain about that.”

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