It is not by chance that Kerry Herndon-Brown, an uncommitted 2022 LHP out of Bethesda, Maryland, is a Dirtbag. In fact, he and his family were very intentional in their efforts to connect with the prestigious organization as a fit for the 15u performer to join in the summer of 2019.
A drive to eastern North Carolina for a tryout in the fall of 2018 came after having seen the Dirtbags play at a tournament earlier in the year. Research then provided evidence the organization has produced results for players which matched the aspirations of Kerry. Those aspirations are to have a chance to be recruited on the national level by powerful baseball programs.
The Dirtbags took a liking to Herndon-Brown as the lefty was placed on the talented 15u Tap Out squad, coached by general manager, Trey Daly.
Daly thinks things could really open up for the 5’10”, 145 pounder with a commitment to build strength and further develop his athleticism.
“I have told Kerry multiple times, if he will dedicate himself to the weight room in the next six months to a year, the sky is the limit for him,” said Daly.
So Herndon-Brown does his 150 pushups daily and has begun other initiatives in the strength training process that has already pushed his once mid 70’s fastball to operate largely in the 80’s.
And just like the move to join the Dirtbags, the term intention is how Herndon-Brown describes these jumps he’s made on the diamond. Working with a personal pitching coach he began to make mechanical adjustments to use his body in his delivery, tinker with his arm angle and be more … well, intentional down the mound.
Daly sees the development paying off as he adds, “On the mound he’s a 80-84 mph southpaw that can throw three pitches for strikes. There is deception in the delivery as the baseball gets on hitters and causes some swing and miss.”
Playing with the Dirtbags for Herndon-Brown has thus far brought the elevation to his game as he intended. He agrees playing with and against the best is critical in motivating one to leverage their skills into performance.
For him, the overall composure aspect necessary in baseball is where he has seen some of his biggest jumps. It’s realizing failure and growing through those learning moments to be a better player on the other side.
Kerry sees playing with the Bags as a way to improve his game also with guided instruction from the coaches as he comments, “(They’re) straight up with you and tell you what to work on to get better. Then you are given the opportunity to work through the improvements on the field.”
Reflectively, Kerry mentions about when the spring rolled around, he started the season at Georgetown Prep with the JV team as a 9th grader. He took this opportunity to work instead of being disappointed. He was once again being intentional with developing his secondary pitches.
His comfort with his game has definitely made strides. He knows exactly who he is and while he will tell you he’s not a finished product, Herndon-Brown sees the intent aspect in each part of his game. On the mound he will establish the fastball but can now throw the slider on any count (and we’re not really mentioning that splitter that is also in his arsenal). And at the plate, he able to swing harder, transitioning his contact hitter mentality to now attack the gaps.
His performances in big stages have been fantastic all summer. On a team that finished 3rd at the 2022 WWBA in Georgia, he was a solid performer. Daly cites his role in that run with, “The Final 8 game in the WWBA down in Lake Point was flat out impressive. He threw 6 ⅓ innings and punched our ticket to the Final 4.”
With the summer Dirtbag season complete after reaching the final game of the Future Stars Series 2022 event in Cypress, Texas, the lefty is in Vero Beach, Florida, this week participating in the Hank Aaron Invitational – an event that Daly nor Dirtbags CEO Andy Partin can ever recall a Dirtbag having the privilege to attend.
The event is an amateur development event sponsored by the MLB, the MLBPA, USA Baseball, and the Atlanta Braves. Players are selected via outreach of those organizations and others. The purpose is to provide HS age players of diverse backgrounds baseball skill instruction, in addition to off field direction that could benefit the participants as they look to reach the next levels of the game.
While serving some 250 players through the summer, the players are coached and tutored by former big leaguers, including Hall of Famers Ken Griffey, Jr., and Dave Winfield. The top 44 players will participate in a showcase game at SunTrust Park in Atlanta as a part of Hank Aaron Week.
All of this performing and learning has begun to product opportunities that match those aspirations which led Kerry to the Dirtbags. In his words, he now has his “eyes on some of the big D1’s with top academic programs” as potential institutions he’d love to find as a fit.
Which makes perfect sense if one spends any time with the young man, who admittedly loves to read, and seems to take as much care in his articulation of conversation as he does with his surgical dissection of the strike zone from the mound.
He credits his academic prowess, much like his drive in baseball, to his family. And that is obvious to many who have seen them interact.
“He comes from a first class family. I say that due to watching how his family treats the ‘team’. No matter if Kerry is pitching or not the family is into every pitch. It’s flat out awesome to see. With his upbringing and knowledge of the game, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Dirtbags and the Brown family in the upcoming years,” according to Daly
While the whole baseball journey is perhaps just beginning for Herndon-Brown, the steps seem to be leading to some pretty exciting moments – not just for Kerry, but also the Dirtbags.