The senior outfielder passed on an opportunity to turn pro after being selected in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates last June to pursue his goal of finishing his college career with a berth in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
It would be the first trip to the national tournament for Thomas, whose Georgia Tech squad made it as far as the NCAA regionals the first three years of his college career. The Yellow Jackets haven’t advanced to Omaha since 2006.
“I considered it and I thought about it long and hard,” Thomas said. “I talked to my family, friends and coaches — including [Georgia Tech] coach [Danny] Hall. At the end of the day, I felt really excited about the team that was going to be here, the group of guys that we have and the opportunity to get to Omaha.”
The quest for a berth in the College World Series has gotten off to a good start for Thomas, who was third on the team in hitting with a .426 batting average and had 10 RBIs through Friday.
With Thomas playing a key role, Georgia Tech was 12-1 and ranked 18th in the USA Today Top 25 coaches’ poll going into its three-game series at Virginia Tech last weekend.
He has had a number of stellar performances this season, including going 4-for-6 with three RBIs and two runs scored in Georgia Tech’s 16-9 victory over Mercer at Russ Chandler Stadium last Wednesday.
“I think I’m still getting my timing back,” Thomas said. “It’s been really cold and I’ve been kind of battling that at the plate. It’s been tough, but I feel good with where I’m at and where I’m going to be.”
Thomas is coming off of his best season at Georgia Tech, leading the team in batting average (.360), walks (37) and on-base percentage (.481), while also accumulating five home runs, 44 RBIs and 12 stolen bases to earn First Team All-ACC honors in 2012.
He also achieved one of his biggest goals last year, when the Yellow Jackets won the Atlantic Coast Conference title.
“The biggest thing is winning the ACC championship last year,” Thomas said. “That was very cool.”
Thomas has made steady progress during his college career, hitting .262 with 13 RBIs as a freshman in 2010, then improving to .307 with three homers and 29 RBIs in ’11.
“I think, every year, I’ve worked hard to get better in each facet of my game,” Thomas said. “Not just hitting, but defensively, running and throwing. Every offseason and every summer, I’ve really dedicated myself to work hard and to improve.”
Thomas has been just as successful in the classroom as he’s been on the baseball field at Georgia Tech.
A business administration major who holds a cumulative 3.5 grade point average, Thomas has been a three-time selection to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and the Academic All-ACC team in 2011 as well as a second-team Capital One Academic All-America and first-team Capital One Academic All-District last year.
“Ever since I got here, I’ve worked real hard to do my part in the classroom,” Thomas said. “I prepared really well at Pace and it’s paid off. All my hard work has paid off in the classroom as well.”
Hall praises Thomas for his contribution to the Yellow Jackets on the field as well as his academic achievements.
“Brandon has been great for us the last couple years and he continues to impress me,” Hall said. “He puts in the time on and off the field and he’s a model student-athlete. Last year, he was a first-team All-ACC performer, an Academic All-American and he has really put us on his shoulders offensively. To have him and [pitcher] Buck Farmer back for their senior seasons really changes the complexion of this team.”
Thomas entered Georgia Tech after a sterling career at Pace, where he hit .679 and was a first-team All-Region 5A selection as a senior in 2009.
He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 37th round of the Major League draft after his senior high school season in ’09.
Now, with his college career coming to an end after this season, Thomas is working hard on achieving the top item on his to-do list — earning a trip to the College World Series.
“My goal is to get to Omaha this year,” Thomas said. “We’ve got the talent to do it and the team continues to get better and better. Every game we play, we gain confidence and if we do what we’re capable of doing, it’s a reachable goal.”