Entering the 2017 season, Camden High head baseball coach Denny Beckley knew he had a mound ace in his son and current Citadel pitcher Devin Beckley. What the Bulldog boss did not have was a returning starter at catcher, never mind one who could handle the hard-throwing and sometimes erratic i.e., wild, right-hander.
As the opening game of the season drew closer, Denny Beckley liked what he saw out of Brady White and rolled the dice that the sophomore could get the job done behind the plate. Neither Denny Beckley nor the Camden baseball program regretted the move as White settled into his new digs to become a three-year starter.
Earlier this spring, in a ceremony held inside the CHS library, White officially left the Bulldogs and will go on to greener pastures as he signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and baseball-playing pursuits at USC-Sumter.
In his pre-signing speech as to what White meant to his program, Beckley talked in glowing terms as to how White was the best leader that he had ever coached in his 20-plus seasons at the Bulldog helm. Later, in a lighter moment, Beckley talked on how White won the starting catching job.
“In Brady’s sophomore year, we didn’t know who was going to catch for us,” Beckley said as to finding a starting backstop. “A big concern was Devin was our ace and he’s extremely difficult to catch. He’s very wild at times and he throws a lot of balls in the dirt. We found out, real quick, in the early part of that season that we had a really special catcher in Brady because he was able to control Devin fairly well. If he could do that as a sophomore, we knew we were going to be in pretty good shape.”
When seeing how White handled Camden’s pitchers and himself at the plate and with the glove, one opposing coach called White the most improve player in the county. Beckley could not disagree with that assessment.
“We always knew that Brady had great potential. He was not quite as strong then, obviously, as he is now. He just grew into his body and developed physically,” he said.
All White did that season would be to start 25 of 28 games behind the plate, hit for a .279 average while driving in 18 runs. As a senior, White earned All-Region 4-AAA honors after batting .244 with 11 runs batted in while walking 18 times. The figures from the 2019 campaign were a bit skewed as White was bumped from his spot in the middle of the batting order to leadoff to take advantage of his ability to put the ball in play and, get on base as his .414 on-base percentage bore out.
Statistical numbers hardly tell the entire story when it comes to Brady White who was the backbone of Camden’s back-to-back district championship teams in 2018 and ‘19. His role as team leader was unquestioned. Roll all those together and you get an idea as to what drew USC-Sumter coach Tim Medlin to Camden and to White, who he started recruiting when White was a junior.
Medlin’s time and effort paid off with White’s eventual signing. One thing which White did was his homework on the Fire Ants and the relatively short history of their baseball program.
“Coach Medlin really liked me and I really like what he has going on over there,” White said. “They have won 30-plus games in 11 out of the 12 years they have had a program. Coach Medlin is a good guy who is going to push me to the max and get me in good shape to be physically prepared for next spring.”
In White, Medlin will be getting someone who played several roles, but one main position for the Bulldogs. Being a catcher was White’s idea. It started when playing on a travel ball team when he was eight years old and the team’s catcher was struggling at the position. White wasted little time in pleading his case to be given a try there and soon thereafter donned the catching gear.
“I told my coach, ‘Coach, please let me try it.’ I actually did pretty good,” White said with a smile as he recounted the story of how he became a catcher. “I started working really hard at it and that’s how I became a catcher.”
White’s passion for the catching position and the game never wavered since as he was an extension of the coaching staff in practice and on the diamond. He took his role as a leader seriously, even if some of his teammates resented his bluntness at times. He said his leadership skills were developed at home and carried over to the ball park.
“I think I get a lot of it from my stepdad Marshall (Minich), who is a leader. He will push me to go hard in everything that I do whether it’s school, the weight room and that kind of stuff. I embrace it pretty well,” White said. “I got kind of tough on the guys; they didn’t always like me at times but they always loved and respected me.”
Being a leader and playing catcher, White said, seem to go hand-in-hand. “I think it is because you have to control everything and let everybody know what to do and when to do it. You have to know what to do at all times and you’re involved every single play.”
Having someone like White, who knew which buttons to push and when they needed to be pushed, took some of that burden off the shoulders of Beckley and his assistant coaches.
“Brady’s always been a guy who has been an extra coach on our team. He was always able to pick up the things that we taught over the five years he was with the program,” Beckley said. “What he is able to do is he sees the big picture and directs traffic with those players to get them to where they need to be going. It’s not like he is just barking orders at everybody, he does his share of work, too.”
Beckley went on to add that White has a love for baseball which makes his coming to practice and playing in games more like a release than a chore. He is also a student of the game which helps to have in a catcher. And possessing an outgoing personality never hurts, either.
“The work ethic, the leadership skills, the passion … he’s an extremely passionate kid when it comes to the game. He’s extremely passionate when it comes to baseball,” Beckley said. “He’s been an unbelievable person when it comes to helping out with our camps in the spring and summer. He wants to be a coach. Those are the kind of guys that Tim Medlin is looking for.”
White, who is also in his third season with the Kershaw County Post 17 American Legion team, will be given the chance to showcase his skills during the Fire Ants’ fall practices. He hopes to earn a starting spot or, be the second game catcher on the weekend. In order to that to happen, both White and Beckley said there will be adjustments which all players going from high school to college have to make, regardless of the sport.
“I’m going to have to get in better shape and get in better condition,” White said. “I need to work on my hitting a little more and moving quicker.”
“He’s going to have to get in better playing shape. He’s also going to have to get better with his hitting. Brady’s always been a good clutch hitter like with his walk-off hit against Hartsville and the big hit against Chapman in the sixth inthe playoffs,” Beckley said. “He’s always been a clutch guy and a good on-base guy. Now, he just has to get more consistent, get his average up and get more base hits which is going to be tough at the college level.”
Playing baseball will be just one part of the equation for White in Sumter. He admitted that making the best use of his newfound free time will be just as important as to his development at the next level.
“I think a big change will be time management,” White said of off the field changes from high school to college. “Next year, there will be a lot of free time because you only have two classes a day and then, you have to work in practice and weights. You are going to have a lot of time on your hands and you have to know what to do with it. That will be the biggest adjustment that I have to make.”
When you consider all the attributes which Brady White will bring to USC-Sumter, in addition to his gear, Beckley said he can’t help but believe one of the favorite players he has coached will pick up where he left off in college.
“We’re just so happy for Brady. He knows it’s going to be tough because coach Medlin is a demanding coach, by design,” said the Bulldog boss. “We feel that Brady has been prepared for that with some of the things that we put him through here. That should help him be successful.”