NIU baseball player joins Orioles

By Matt Hopkinson

DeKalb | For some students, getting their degree handed to them is their dream, while others must walk away from their degree in order to chase their dream.

Former NIU baseball player Brett Frantini has now fallen into the latter category, as he was recently signed by the Baltimore Orioles and finished out the Gulf Coast League season with their affiliate.

“I knew I didn’t have a good enough time at Northern, but I knew I had the ability to play,” Frantini said. “I knew some people down in Florida who were running hitting academies, and that really helped me a lot.”

Frantini leaves NIU as the all-time leader in throwing out attempted base-stealers, throwing out 41 players. The defensive side of the game was not the limiting factor for Frantini, but he didn’t get down about not being drafted, and instead sought out the help in hopes of landing a contract.

“The draft is a funny thing,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. “You never know how it’s going to shape up for people. He has great arm strength, when we recruited him we saw the tools that we liked and other scouts liked; turns out we were right.”

Frantini credits not only his own family, but the Kraft family, which is who he stayed and trained with while in Florida, for their help in the pursuit of his lifelong dream.

Frantini decided to take the chance with his skill set, leaving his career in school where he was pursuing a teaching certification degree in Physical Education, on the backburner.

“It wasn’t a tough decision for me,” Frantini said. “I know I put a lot of work into school, but I’ve put my whole life into baseball. School will always be there. Once you get to a certain point, you can’t play ball anymore, so I’ve got to put everything into this and make the most of my opportunity.”

Mathey echoed similar sentiments in terms of limited time to play professional baseball, but also offered up a more somber look at every athlete’s dream.

“Take advantage of the time you can play, but also look at the numbers,” Mathey said. “The way professional baseball shapes up, more people are going to make more money with their degree than with throwing, catching and hitting the ball.”

Frantini believes his choice is not only a want, but a necessary maneuver. He hopes to catch on by attempting to get into Winter League ball, and if not there, then by reporting to next season’s spring training with the Orioles.

“I figured I had one chance to do this, and I was able to get signed,” Frantini said. “I looked at it as: I wouldn’t have to live with the regret of not trying, and if I did get signed, it’s what I always wanted.”