Eddie Vanderdoes is a big guy. Like 6-foot-3, 285 pounds big. He can break through blocks with ease and get to the quarterback quicker than most people half his weight can. But while his size might get in the way in some sports like cross country and lacrosse, it doesn’t effect him one bit in high school baseball, where Vanderdoes looks and plays a lot like Jonathan Broxton.
Broxton, 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, shares the same body frame as Vanderdoes, and has made a major league career off of it. In his first year with the Kansas City Royals, Broxton is having the best year of his career, sporting a 1.99 ERA in 31 innings, while finishing the first half of the season with 21 saves, putting him on pace to shatter his career-best mark of 36. His ERA+ is his highest to date at 205, and his high-90s fastball is as good as ever, making him give C.C. Sabbathia a slight run for his money as the best big man in the game.
But despite the age gap and the sport they’re associated with more, the parallels between Broxton and Vanderdoes are freakish.
In just 15 innings pitched as a junior in high school, Vanderdoes struck out 33. His ERA was a minuscule 1.87, and opponents hit just .164 off of him. For a pitching prospect, those would be insane numbers. However, for a recruit that is far and away the best defensive lineman west of the Mississippi, those numbers are hard to fathom, and something that USC would welcome with open arms.
Vanderdoes told Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee back in June, that playing baseball in college was an idea that he was interested in. “I love baseball, and it’s something I think about because I could play baseball for a long time if anything were to happen in football,” Vanderdoes told Davidson. “I love football, too. Doing both is something to think about.”
At USC, with a baseball program clutching for anything to keep it historic, Vanderdoes could easily become a reliever and designated hitter, like he is in high school. With a role like Jason Lane and an appearance and arm that resembles Jonathan Broxton, it’s hard to imagine that manager Frank Cruz wouldn’t personally greet Vanderdoes the second he turns down McClintock for the first time, in 2013.
Obviously the Trojans need Vanderdoes to play football more than anything, but one can’t say that the prospects of him playing baseball aren’t more than intriguing. With his bravado and a mid-90s heater, Vanderdoes could bring a spunk that USC baseball has been missing for a long, long time. Essentially, he could make the team relevant to the average college baseball fan, who have been without a reason to be lured to Dedeaux Field for more than a half decade.
And mind you, that for fans in Los Angeles, Jonathan Broxton isn’t exactly a positive name in respect to the memories of his failures in 2011 and 2011 with the Dodgers. But, having the skill set of a Broxton clone at USC won’t hurt at all. Plus, they really do alike, and that’s worth the conversation in itself. For comparisions sake, see for yourself. Exhibit A vs. Exhibit B. Same person, right?