A Local Talent: Who is Brycen Thomas?
By Daniel Johnson
MTN Sports Reporter April 28, 2021
Middle Tennessee State junior baseball player Brycen Thomas has been a huge component to the rising success of the Blue Raider baseball program. Joining the program in 2018, Thomas quickly began to make his imprint on the organization as a freshman. Earning three starts in 14 games, Thomas recorded his first career home run against Indiana State, while also driving in two RBI’s. Based off of those numbers, the general public would think that it was a pretty good first season.
However, the transition for Thomas did not go as planned.
“The only thing I had to adjust to was how the game was played”, said Thomas. “I didn’t get to experience much in the fall of my freshman season due to being out for Tommy John surgery, but once I got back to getting reps on a consistent basis, and practicing with the team, everything became normal.”
Thomas is one of the rare “pitcher/hitter”, dual-threat players. In the 14 games that Thomas appeared in during his freshman season, he made four appearances on the mound, all four coming in relief.
“As a hitter and a pitcher, everyone has to adjust because it is a lot harder at this level”, said Thomas. “I struggled when I first got here, when I got cleared with some of the pitching at first. All that takes is experience to overcome those issues.”
Born in Nashville, Thomas and his family would eventually move to Spring Hill when he was two years old. If you are from Spring Hill, you know that while playing sports in high-school, you see everyone playing multiple sports. Spring Hill is one of the up-and-coming cities in Tennessee, being responsible for both Maury and Williamson county, it is easy to keep up with everyone and how well they are doing in their respective sports. It made every game competitive, no matter what sport.
“I really enjoyed living in Spring Hill”, said Thomas. “It was a great community. As a little kid, I was always at the ball fields, even on days we were not playing. I grew up playing a lot of sports. I played baseball, basketball and football growing up. I was always just drawn more to baseball, it just came more natural to me. When I got to high-school, I decided to just focus on baseball so that I could succeed more there.”
If there is anything that Spring Hill High School is known for, it is their baseball program. Headed by head coach Paul Lamm, Spring Hill has been a perennial state championship contender year in and year out. Appearing in seven championship games from 2010-2017, the Raiders reached the finals in 2010 and 2012, but came up short. In 2016, the Raiders finally got over the hump. Led by former Vanderbilt pitcher Zach King, who is currently in the Miami Marlins organization, Spring Hill captured their first state championship in program history. Thomas’s junior year, he was a vital factor in bringing a title back to Spring Hill.
“Every team wants to be the last team standing and when it happens, all that hard work feels like it was worth every bit of it”, said Thomas. “One of my favorite moments was hitting the game tying home run. The other was when the final run came in to score for us and realizing we finally did it.”
One of the best players to come through Spring Hill, Lamm had high praise for Thomas.
“Having the opportunity to coach a player like Brycen in high-school can be summed up in one word: fun”, said Lamm. “Watching him mature both physically and mentally from his freshman year to his senior was ideally what you want out of every player that comes through your program. After playing junior varsity exclusively his entire freshman year, Brycen began to work hard at every aspect of his game including the physical side of things. That’s when we truly started to see something special in him.”
Thomas knew it would take plenty of discipline and hard work to get where not only he, but the team wanted to be. However, it was often deeper than baseball with Lamm.
“Coach Lamm was one of my favorite coaches to ever play for”, said Thomas. “ He ran things so professionally and helped us be prepared for when life hit us. It wasn’t always about baseball, but he has taught us things that we can use for years down the road. We always had high expectations, and most of us had been playing with each other since we were little. We had good team chemistry, which made playing the game easier. Playing for Coach Lamm and the Spring Hill program was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
Being named a finalist for the AA baseball Mr. Baseball award his senior year in 2017, Thomas will go down as one of the best players to ever suit up for Spring Hill.
“Brycen will definitely go down as one of, if not the most complete, hitter we’ve ever had here at Spring Hill because he hit for average, power and didn’t strike out much at all”, said Lamm. You usually don’t get that package at the high-school level. Couple that with his ability to get on the mound and have the velocity of 90-93 that he had, it’s easy to see why he was such a special player to have the opportunity to coach.”
Coming out of high-school, Middle Tennessee was not the number one option for Thomas. Before ultimately committing to MTSU, Thomas was very close to taking the junior college route, which is not uncommon.
“I really enjoyed Walter’s State coaching staff, but MTSU ‘s coaches really sold me”, said Thomas. “ I talked to MTSU’s coaching staff a decent amount in high-school and they also came out to watch a decent amount of games even after I committed. Overall, they were great people.”
When mentioning “great people” Thomas is never left out of that conversation, according to his peers. There’s much more to Brycen Thomas than baseball. Current pitcher within the Miami Marlins organization Zach King, can attest to that.
“I’ve been playing baseball with Brycen since we were little and built a life-long friendship”, said King. “Being around him, he always wants to see his teammates succeed and just an overall good dude to be around. His parents are awesome people as well so I’m not surprised at all the way he conducts himself. MTSU definitely got a good baseball player but an even better friend.”
Trying to recover from a PCL injury he received a couple weeks ago, Thomas is hoping to return and help the team play some really good ball down the stretch, while trying to lower the risk of COVID-19.
“We have to be careful with everything we do”, said Thomas “ Baseball this year is just different this year in general because of COVID. We have to stay away from large groups and mask up when we are around each other. We all get tested at least twice a week to ensure everyone’s safety.”
When Thomas is not on the field, there are a couple other hobbies he likes to tackle in his free time.
“I like to hangout with some friends, go fishing, but the thing I like to do most is golf in my free time”, said Thomas. “ I find that very relaxing and fun. Me and my dad will go play ever so often when I get some free time.”
Despite being unsure about the future, Thomas knows he has a tremendous support system around him.
“Honestly, I am not really sure where I see myself in the future. I hope I am still playing baseball or around it. If I’m not playing, I hope to be able to coach it either at the high-school or college level. My family has always been a big supporter of me and my baseball career and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”