Alcorn baseball alum Brandon Rembert charts a different path to the major leagues

Published 4:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2023

When his baseball career at Alcorn State was winding down, Brandon Rembert was like a lot of college athletes wondering what comes next when playing is no longer an option.

“I know a lot of athletes are all or nothing, and I was pretty much that same way. I was either going to play pro ball or do something else,” Rembert said.

Rembert did not get an opportunity to play professional baseball, but he might have found another path to the major leagues. He landed a job with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has worked in their minor league organization since February 2022.

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The Pensacola, Florida, native is now trying to help others find a route to a pro sports career by raising awareness of different jobs in the industry beyond player and coach.

“I didn’t know that these other opportunities were out there to still work in pro ball and still be around that atmosphere of professional baseball,” Rembert said. “I think that a lot of people don’t know.”

Rembert is a minor league baseball operations assistant — a fancy catch-all job title for a guy who does a lot of the necessary grunt work that keeps a team running smoothly.

Rembert has so far worked at the Pirates’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, and with the Low-A affiliate in Bradenton, Florida. His duties have included everything from data collection and video work, to throwing batting practice and booking travel for the team. He was recently promoted to a job in the scouting department.

Rembert said his job taught him about the operational and administrative side of a team, and not just how to play the game itself.

“In this role I was exposed to a lot of things. I got to see behind the scenes of how an organization was ran,” he said. “I definitely needed that, to learn and see the different departments and things like that.”

Those are lessons that Rembert thinks can lead to a long career in the sport, and that’s what he’s trying to teach others.
Rembert took an unusual path through college — he had stops at Falkner State and Coastal Alabama Community College before landing at Division I Alcorn State — and an injury during his final season in 2021 curtailed some early draft buzz.

The right fielder batted .302 over three season with the Braves.

He caught a break when Tyrone Brooks, then a Pirates employee and now Major League Baseball’s senior director of front office and field staff diversity pipeline program, spotted Rembert’s resume. It was sent up the chain, Rembert impressed in interviews, and he landed his entry-level job in the minors — a job he had no idea existed when he was in college.

“There are so many moving parts in professional baseball that a lot of people do not know. When I first got hired with the Pirates, I didn’t know that our staff is so huge. It’s hundreds and hundreds of people working for one team,” he said. “I didn’t know about the avenues that you could take to work in professional baseball. I just knew about the GM and that’s about it. There’s a lot of opportunities out there.”

Rembert said the key to finding one of those jobs is research and scouting the right places. Every team posts openings on its website under a “job opportunities” tab, including some surprisingly high-end and even on-field positions. Other listings include internships or links to programs designed to help recent college graduates get their foot in the door.

An industry job board, teamworkonline.com, lists a variety of positions with teams in dozens of leagues.

An applicant will still need the right experience and credentials to get a look — besides his playing experience, Rembert has a masters degree in Athletic Administration and Coaching from Alcorn State — but finding open jobs in what can seem a daunting field is a good first step.

“It’s definitely hard to get into professional baseball, but it’s all about getting your foot in the door. That’s the hardest part,” Rembert said. “It’s good to have that backup plan or find that pivot. I want to get drafted or play professional baseball, but I can also have this opportunity to work in professional baseball.”

Rembert is also trying to encourage athletes at Alcorn State and other historically black colleges and universities to follow his path if they’re interested in a sports career. It can be difficult for athletes from smaller HBCUs to get a look from pro scouts, but it’s still possible for them to work in the sports industry.

In recent years, Major League Baseball has increased its minority recruitment efforts with things like Brooks’ pipeline program; the annual Andre Dawson Classic tournament in New Orleans featuring HBCU teams; and the Ken Griffey Jr. Swingman Classic, which features HBCU all-stars and is played as part of the MLB All-Star Game festivities in July.

Those events provide exposure and networking opportunities, even if they don’t lead to a playing career.

“Once people know that that is possible for me, I think more people will explore that opportunity,” Rembert said. “I’m trying to be a little bit of a sparkplug for that. It is possible. You’re not just an athlete. You can impact professional baseball or any professional sport being on the other side, too.”

Rembert also stressed that getting a job is just the start of a second education beyond college. The first few years in any career are often spent doing unglamorous work and learning the ropes of whatever industry it’s in.

“That’s the way you have to do things, especially in this sport. You have to do the extra work, the work that people don’t want to do. You have to be willing to put in the hours. Sometimes you have to stay up all night. That’s how you get promoted, by adding value,” Rembert said.

“It’s hard. It’s a grind. You miss a lot of stuff. You miss birthdays, you miss weddings, a lot of family stuff, you don’t talk to your friends as much as you want,” he continued. “It’s a lot of sacrifice that comes with it, but the game will definitely reward you if you put in the work. There’s no shortcuts, there’s no handouts. You have to do the work to move up — in any organization you have to do the work and add value.”

Rembert certainly seems to be adding value to the Pirates organization. He’s not sure how far up the ladder he’ll wind up making it, or what different career paths might open up along his journey. He’s just happy to have found an opportunity to make a living in a sport he dearly loves.

“I know I want to be in professional baseball, but I’m not sure what that’s going to look like,” he said. “I never thought I would be here right now. I’m not going to tell you what I want to be. I’m just going to tell you I want to be the best I can be where I’m at. Everything else will handle itself.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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