The AquaSox’s Bryson Brigman fields a grounder during a practice Thursday afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium.

The AquaSox’s Bryson Brigman fields a grounder during a practice Thursday afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Silvertips or AquaSox? Brigman was standout hockey player in youth

EVERETT — Perhaps fate always dictated that Bryson Brigman would wind up playing in Everett.

The only question was the sport.

The Seattle Mariners’ third-round draft pick in last week’s Major League Baseball draft was a standout hockey player as a youth in his native California when he competed for the Los Angeles Selects program during his seventh, eighth and ninth grade years.

The Western Hockey League includes California players, so it is possible that Brigman could have wound up skating at Xfinity Arena rather than playing at Everett Memorial Stadium for the AquaSox had he chosen to pursue hockey instead of baseball.

“(The) WHL was definitely something I was considering,” said Brigman, a shortstop out of the University of San Diego. “Obviously it was still early for me — eighth grade and freshman year — but yeah, it’s cool to be able to have (the Silvertips) right here, right down the street. I’m definitely going to head over and catch a couple games.”

During his hockey-playing years Brigman would attend classes back home in San Jose three days a week while flying to Los Angeles on weekends to play right wing and center with the Selects.

“(I was) not really a great dangler — more of a grinder,” Brigman said with a grin. “Hitting guys, knocking guys off the puck, standing in front of the goalie and making something happen and getting those garbage goals.”

By the time he was a sophomore Brigman had to choose between remaining enrolled and playing baseball at San Jose’s Valley Christian or pursuing hockey.

He chose to remain in San Jose.

“Hockey was always kind of a secondary sport for me, something to keep me from getting burned out on baseball at a young age,” Brigman said. “The main goal was always baseball, so it wasn’t too tough of a decision. But I love hockey. Completely different game, whole different deal, but I’ve always loved baseball No. 1 from the get-go, so it wasn’t too tough of a decision.”

After high school Brigman starred for two years for the Toreros at USD before the Mariners took him 87th overall last week.

“I loved the school,” Brigman said of USD, which competes against the likes of Gonzaga, Portland and St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference. “I kind of wanted a smaller school and I loved the field and the facilities and everything and I thought it was a great spot.”

Brigman’s baseball pedigree is strong. His father, Vince, played at WCC rival Pacific before arm injuries derailed his career, and younger brother Keenan just redshirted his freshman season at the Stockton, Calif., school.

Younger brother Dawson recently completed his sophomore year at Valley Christian and has already committed to play for Cal, while Coleman, the youngest brother, just finished his freshman year and is already getting looks from major programs.

“(Coleman) is probably going to be the best out of all of us,” Bryson quipped.

That’s still a long way off. Bryson gets first crack at professional baseball glory of the Brigman brothers, and that will likely come Friday night as the AquaSox open their season at Pasco’s Gesa Stadium against the Tri-City Dust Devils.

Brigman said he’ll miss his USD teammates and playing in San Diego. But if he makes it to the big leagues with the Mariners he’s guaranteed to play at least a series per season at Petco Park.

“I was really ready to get my career started and everything, so it didn’t really take too much convincing (to sign),” he said. “I had a great deal going over at San Diego, so I’m definitely going to miss that and miss all my teammates out there. San Diego, like I said before, is a great place to play baseball, so I’ll definitely miss it. But I wanted to get my career going.”

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