Brandon Kaminer’s “tough road” to LSU & starter role

Jonathan Mailhes

Like most junior college transfers, Brandon Kaminer’s journey wasn’t what he expected it would be.

A Coral Springs, Fla. native, Kaminer had all the accolades you could heap on a prep player. He was named the 2017 Miami Herald Pitcher of the Year for Broward County in addition to being named an All-American by Louisville Slugger after posting 1.16 ERA career ERA with 190 strikeouts.

When it came time to make a college decision Kaminer decided to stay home, committing and enrolling at the nearby University of Miami.

But before his freshman season as a Hurricane could begin, he tore his meniscus in his left leg and had to miss his freshman season. He then transferred to Wallace Community College in Dothan, Ala.

Kaminer found success at Wallace, posting a 5.12 ERA in 65 innings. While his ERA didn’t set the world on fire, Kaminer displayed great command of the strike zone, allowing just nine walks all year with 68 strikeouts.

That kind of command, especially from a left-handed pitcher, will always be a welcome addition to a pitching staff and LSU head coach Paul Mainieri wasn’t one to turn him away.

“When (LSU recruiting coordinator Nolan Cain) recruited him, he really like him,” Mainieri said. “It was what we want: a strike throwing left-handed pitcher. He walked like, eight or nine batters last year in junior college at 60 innings pitched. For a left hander, that’s really exciting stuff. Plus, he throws 89 or 90 miles an hour, he’s got a pretty changeup and a little breaking ball.”

But when Kaminer arrived at LSU, he struggled in the fall. Kaminer was trying to do too much to impress the coaching staff and got away from what landed him in Baton Rouge in the first place. He overthought everything and got too much inside his own head.

“This fall, he did not look like anything Nolan described to me,” Mainieri said. “I say that affectionately, but I was very concerned. He did not look comfortable and he did not look confident.”

Kaminer went home during the winter break and completely refocused, working on what he could physically while rebuilding himself mentally. When he came back for the preseason, he felt the pressure taken off.

“I had a troubled time in the fall,” Kaminer said. “I think maybe some nerves from just getting here and trying to do too much. When I went home, I made sure I worked on the things that weren’t working. When I came back, it was a different me.”

Mainieri noticed the new and improved Kaminer and liked it, naming Kaminer as the starter in the Tigers’ first midweek game against Southern last Wednesday.

“It was like a light switch went on,” Mainieri said.

Kaminer only pitched two innings against the Jaguars where he allowed two unearned runs off a pair of hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

In 2.2 innings of work as a reliever, Kaminer has yet to give up a hit or an earned run. In his inning in the Sunday finale against Eastern Kentucky, Kaminer retired the Colonels in order with two strikeouts.

After not allowing an earned run in three appearances, he will reprise his role as a midweek starter Wednesday night when LSU hosts Louisiana Tech at 6:30 p.m.

Kaminer is a long way from Coral Springs, and Coral Gables for that matter. But his college baseball career is finally coming together with the establishment of his role with the Tigers.

“It hasn’t been the road that I thought it would be,” Kaminer said. “But in the end, everything worked out. I’ve worked my butt off for two years now. I got hurt at Miami, so just going through that adversity has been tough but being here is awesome and I can’t expect anymore. It’s been a tough road but I’m working through it.”

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