Brewer Hicklen’s Path to the Pros
By Lauren Davidson
Brewer Hicklen’s path to the pros athlete
As Brewer Hicklen sat in his living room surrounded by family and his closest friends, his name was announced on the TV.
His head dropped into his hands as if something horrible had happened.
Two years earlier Hicklen was a University of Alabama-Birmingham walk-on baseball player. Now on that June 2017 day he became the school’s highest draft pick ever.
Brewer Hicklen on being highest ever draft pick at UAB
Being drafted by the Kansas City Royals was something others believed could happen, but Hicklen wasn’t so sure.
“From going my freshman year not thinking I was ever going to get to play professional baseball to being here really just blows me away and puts things into perspective,” he said.
In high school, Hicklen was a two-sport athlete, excelling at both. He was First Team All-City in baseball, All-State Honorable Mention in football, and also earned All-City MVP honors in both sports in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I’ve always kind of felt like football was going to be the way that I was going to go to college and then I was probably going to play baseball on a football scholarship,” Hicklen said. “So I kind of focused a lot on getting my exposure out for football; I never really tried to do much for baseball.
During his senior year, Hicklen received a scholarship from UAB to play baseball. He told coach Brian Shoop he wanted to wait on football offers before making a decision. Hicklen received multiple scholarship offers for football, but none that felt quite right. So a few months later, Hicklen called coach Shoop to tell him he was ready to accept the UAB baseball offer.
But by then the scholarship wasn’t available. Shoop hadn’t heard from Hicklen in a while so he offered the scholarship to another player.
“My heart just dropping and I just started bawling, crying, and he heard me over the phone,” Hicklen paused. “And it was an emotional time for my family because you’re calling to do something that you’ve worked so hard and put so many hours into, and you’re left heartbroken with nothing. And so to be in that position it was a really hard time for me.”
Hicklen didn’t let losing the scholarship stop him. He went to UAB as a walk-on with intent to earn a scholarship. Because of a rotator cuff injury he redshirted his freshman. Nonetheless, Shoop offered him a scholarship.
Even after receiving the scholarship, Hicklen admits to having doubts about his baseball future. Playing professional ball wasn’t even a consideration.
While the doubt of playing professional baseball stuck in Hicklen’s head, the desire to play football continued to burn in his heart.
Without telling his baseball coaches, Hicklen approached the football coaches, asking for a tryout.
“I had no doubt in my mind I was going to do everything I could for the baseball team, but when it came down to it in the summer I was going to play football.”
Hicklen not only made the football team, but also earned a full football scholarship. He decided to accept the football scholarship, so his baseball scholarship could go to another player who had walked-on to the baseballteam. Hicklen went through a year of playing both sports at UAB before he realized there was a possibility of being drafted by a Major League team.
The choice between playing professional baseball and returning to as a two-sport college athlete tugged at Hicklen. But he knew he couldn’t let his indecisiveness between baseball and football ruin another opportunity.
In 2017, the Kansas City Royals drafted Hicklen in the seventh round.
“When we heard my name, I was just thinking oh my gosh. I mean you think about it, in this big picture from the Purple People Eaters (his Little League baseball team) to the Kansas City Royals it’s like oh my goodness how many reps have I between this time and this is such an accomplishment.”
Even as Hicklen pursues his Major League dreams, draft day was bittersweet. He realized his football career was officially over.
“It was hard when it came Sept. 1st or 2nd whenever that first game was. I remember sitting in my room just crying my eyes out, thinking I was with those guys, I put that work in,” Hicklen said. “Running out of that tunnel is something I always dreamed of and I was just sitting there crying like man what if I could be there?”
Brewer Hicklen reminisces on playing football
This year he’ll play for the Lexington Legends. Last year at UAB he batted .328, with 31 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
Hicklen realizes his athletic success will be in baseball. But, he still has a football mentality. His father said Brewer plays baseball like a football player. Hicklen agrees and said he sees it translate to the way he runs bases, slides and plays in the outfield.
“Honestly it’s the same (wide receiver and center fielder). When the ball is in the air, I’m getting that ball regardless of where it is I’m going to do everything to get it, and I’ve ran into the fence many times and I lose every time and still haven’t learned my lesson. Hopefully I will eventually, but I just want to make the play.”
Brewer Hicklen on his faith
Brewer Hicklen on his favorite MLB player growing up