An up-and-coming Surrey baseball player is hoping to make his way to the big leagues, starting with his post-secondary education.
Brandon Sonnenberg, 18, has a full scholarship to San Jacinto College in Texas, a Division 1 college with five national championship titles for its Gators team.
This news follows a stellar season Sonnenberg had with B.C. Premier Baseball League champions the Okanagan Athletics, in which his overall hitting average was .340. He also had 23 stolen bases, second among all players in the league.
"I ended the season on a positive note winning the BCPBL championship," said the Fraser Heights Secondary graduate days before flying south for his first San Jac practise. "I'm feeling great right now to be ready for college."
The six-foot-one outfielder's interest in the sport began around the age of five with tee ball before moving up to Whalley Little League for about eight years. He spent a season with the then-Fraser Valley Chiefs, followed by two seasons with Okanagan A's.
"I had to work really hard to get to where I am today," said Sonnenberg, noting that baseball has been his passion since he first picked up the bat.
Sonnenberg credits hitting coach Jim Chapman - who is also an MLB scout for the San Francisco Giants - with helping his swing, calling Chapman the "best in B.C."
The San Jac Gators have an impressive history in baseball, with 22 Junior College (JUCO) World Series appearances and dozens of alumni playing in the pro ranks.
"They're a really good school," said Sonnenberg. "They came second place last year in the JUCO World Series."
This fall, Sonnenberg will take general studies with an interest in pursuing business management. As for his goals with the Gators, he has his sights set pretty high.
"I know it's a big hope, but I'd like to get drafted," he said. "I'd love to get drafted by the Yankees. They're my favourite team."
He listed current players Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, as well as classic Yankees Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth, as his biggest baseball inspirations.
"I got my Alex Rodriguez jersey with me down here," he said with a chuckle.
Even with the concept of getting drafted on his mind, Sonnenberg said he will stay focused on his studies and hopes to leave university with a degree. He intends to finish his two years at San Jac, then transfer to another school for his final two years.
"I'm still trying to keep my options open," he said.
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