There have so far been only three players ever drafted by Major League Baseball clubs who attended Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford, Connecticut. One of them was named Rusty Brooder, and I’m pretty sure that name has immediately rocketed to the top of my all-time favorite baseball names list.
(I keep one. Of course I keep one!)
Only one Lyman Hall graduate has ever made it to the big leagues, however, and that was not the aforementioned Rusty Brooder. It was P.J. Higgins, a former 12th round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of Old Dominion University back in 2015, and Higgins is now officially a part of the Cincinnati Reds system.
He was signed today to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training in Goodyear, the team announced this afternoon.
The #Reds today signed C/1B P.J. Higgins to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League camp.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) November 13, 2023
While initially a catcher-only by trade, Higgins was moved all around the infield by the Cubs during his time in their franchise, and he has 6 big league homers to his credit in 254 career big league PA. One of those came in a 15-7 victory over the Reds on June 30th of 2022, a 2-run tater off infielder-turned-reliever Max Schrock in Chicago’s blowout win.
He’s the owner of an impressive (and even) .900 OPS in 672 PA at the AAA level split across four seasons (and two clubs), having spent the first half of the 2023 season as part of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization before being brought back into the fold by the Cubs.
He’ll serve as a depth piece, something that, as a catcher, always means he’ll have a chance to crack it at the big league level at some point. You’ll recall that the same 2022 season in which Higgins homered against the Reds saw Cincinnati turn to the likes of Aramis Garcia, Austin Romine, Mike “Soda” Papierski, Chris Okey, Mike Koloszvary, and Chuckie Robinson behind the plate as Tyler Stephenson battled injury after injury.
Higgins, I should add, was teammates with Connor Overton at Old Dominion during the 2014 season.
Welcome to the club, P.J., and thank you for alerting me to the presence of one Rusty Brooder.
(May Rusty rest in peace.)