Ask Brady House about the Major League Baseball draft on any given day, and chances are he’s already been asked about it.
Not surprisingly, it’s a hot topic surrounding Winder-Barrow’ star shortstop, who recently wrapped up his high school career. He’s projected by many as a top-five pick in next month’s draft but has a scholarship at Tennessee waiting on him, too.
“Starting after baseball season, it’s been about five times a day — every time I see someone, they’ve been asking what I’m going to do,” House said recently. “I can’t get them a definite answer yet, because I’m kind of stuck in the middle.”
While it’s a weighty decision, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder said having both options available is “awesome.” He just hasn’t made up his mind which one suits him better.
The ultra-talented House, who turned 18 on June 4, has positioned himself to be one of the top players taken by a Major League club after a prep career that culminated with him batting .549 this spring with eight home runs and 20 RBIs for coach Brian Smith’s Bulldoggs. He finished with 50 hits. House hit a blistering .653 during a COVID-shortened junior season in 2020.
House’s talent has brought loads of attention to this quiet, small-town kid. He drew multiple scouts — and in one case two Major League general mangers — to Bulldogg games. House admitted that the attention took some getting used to, feeling the intensity of that spotlight in earnest last summer when he was, as MLB.com put it, the “most famous player in the 2021 high school class.” But he eventually grew more comfortable with being the center of that focus during the spring.
“They’re coming to watch me, so just be myself and play my game,” House said. “They don’t want to see me be somebody I’m not, so just try to be myself 100 percent of the time.”
Not only did House generate the in-person attention, there was the online conversation, too. If House wanted to investigate the draft speculation, he just had to check Twitter. While it might have been tempting for a high school player to enter that rabbit hole, House wanted his mind right for the season and paid little attention to the mock drafts.
“If I look on Twitter, it may add some outside distraction … just staying set on this season was my goal this senior season,” House said.
House’s 2021 season also carried the challenge of him and just three other seniors leading the program. He noted a tough patch during the season in which the seniors had to guide the younger players.
“We wanted to pick up the team the best we could if we weren’t winning games,” he said. “I think we went through a stretch where we lost two games in a matter of a couple of weeks. We just tried our best to get the team’s mind off of it and focus on the next game … You can’t focus on the past.”
The Bulldoggs’ 24-7 season ended with a second-round loss in the GHSA Class AAAAAA playoffs. Since then, House has had some time to investigate his draft stock.
MLB.com’s mock draft has him going No. 5 to the Baltimore Orioles. The website went on to say that House “offers some of the best power in the draft and possibly enough athleticism to stay at shortstop.” He’s also been compared to Texas’s Joey Gallo and Nolan Gorman, a first-round draft choice by the Cardinals in 2018. House is part of a trio of talented high school short stops — Jordan Lawlar, (Jesuit Prep, Dallas) and Marcelo Mayer (Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif.) being the other two — pegged as potential top 5 picks.
If House is selected as high as projected, he will become — remarkably — the third Winder-Barrow player in the past decade taken in the first round. Travis Demeritte (Texas Rangers, 2013) and Max Pentecost (Blue Jays, 2014) are the other two. He’s spoken to both about their experiences, particularly Pentecost, whom House sees regularly at the Bulldoggs’ facility.
“It’s definitely good to be able to talk with those guys, and see how their experience was with the Major Leagues,” House said.
Despite his lofty status as a top-10 draft pick — which would net him a multi-million dollar signing bonus — the lure of playing college baseball at Tennessee is strong. House, who grew up a Georgia fan but committed to the Vols as a freshman, has spent his high school career anticipating his future on Rocky Top.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff — (Josh) Elander, (Tony) Vitello, (Ross) Kivett, (Frank) Anderson — and I’ve just been looking forward for the past four years to playing for those guys,” House said.
House, who is an honor graduate, also noted the importance of earning a college degree.
The looming decision he said is something “I have to weigh and just see how things play out and see what’s going to benefit me for my future,” he said.
As he moves on, House has taken some time to reflect on a career that started at age 3 and included two stints on Team USA squads in international competition and four high-profile years at Winder-Barrow.
It’s been a long journey to reach this point.
“The hard work that I put in is finally paying off, and I’m excited to see what the future holds,” House said.
House has no plans yet for draft night. He said he hasn’t thought that far ahead.
As for his future, whether he's on a Minor League bus going from town to town or playing in Knoxville next year, House said he’ll miss being a Winder-Barrow Bulldogg.
“It will be pretty tough,” House said of moving on. “I grew up here my whole entire life. With this high school, I’ve been here for four years playing baseball with Coach Smith. It’s going to be hard, but I’m sure I’ll be back visiting soon wherever I go.”