NORMAL, Ill. – One month after Vince Apicella signed a deal to play with the Normal Cornbelters of the Frontier League, former third baseman Brandon Roberts has inked a deal with the Cornbelters to become the 13th former Carson-Newman player to sign with a Frontier League club since the league's inception in 1993.
"Playing pro ball has been a dream of mine ever since I started playing baseball as a little kid," Roberts said. "Having all the time and sacrifices that my family, friends and coaches have made pay off in this way really means a lot to me and I couldn't be more thankful for them."
It is the 11th time that a pair of Carson-Newman classmates signed with a professional team in the same season dating back to the first occurrence in 1988 when Dave Owen joined the Boston Red Sox and Darren Hodges was picked up by the New York Yankees.
Most recently, in 2012, Kyle Koeneman signed in the Pioneer League and Mike Mullen spent time in the Canadian American Association.
"Being able to see a familiar face in Vince will definitely help me be comfortable and we've really pushed each other and matured together over the past three years," Roberts said. "It will be fun to continue to do that and just have fun playing a game every day."
The last time a pair of Eagles were on the same team in the professional ranks was in 2005 when pitcher Brian Chapman and outfielder Nathan Gravley played for the Richmond Roosters of the Frontier League.
The Davie, Fla. native was named a second-team all-region selection by the American Baseball Coaches' Association (ABCA), the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Division II Collegiate Commissioners Association (D2CCA) on top of being a first-team All-South Atlantic Conference pick and Gold Glove winner.
Roberts is the third C-N third baseman to earn a first-team All-SAC nod and the first since Derrick Lankford in 1996. The senior ranks in the top-10 in the conference in hits (71 – 5th), batting average (.368 - 9th), RBIs (54 – 6th), slugging percentage (.622 – 9th) and total bases (120 – 8th). On March 1, Roberts was named the SAC and Tennessee Sportswriters' Association Player of the Week as he became the first C-N player to earn the SAC honor since Kevin Franchetti won on March 5, 2013. He began the year on a 17-game hitting streak and has notched 20 multi-hit games and 14 multi-RBI outings.
The third baseman tallied a .944 fielding percentage tallying 117 assists, second among players at the hot corner and ninth in the league while being a part of nine double plays.
Roberts joined Brandon Burchfield as the only two players to be named CoSIDA Acadmeic All-district as Burchfield was an All-American in 2006 and 2007. The Davie, Fla. native excelled in the classroom piling up a 3.54 GPA while studying in the Carson-Newman Communications School with a major of Media Studies.
The Cornbelters season concludes on Sept. 4 with a home game against Florence Freedom. Followers can stay up to date with Apicella and Roberts by following @Normal_Baseball on Twitter and by using the team's official website that can be found here during the 2016 campaign.
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