Their eye-popping stats are close to identical, but their attributes and stories are as dissimilar as a bloop and a blast.
Together, they comprise one of the two best one-two starting pitching combinations in California. But when taken individually, they represent both confirmation of and a challenge to the general baseball consensus regarding the projection of potential to performance at the sport's highest level.
Orange Coast College freshman Brandon Brennan is the power-pitching prototype, standing 6-foot-4, 220 pounds with a fastball clocked as high as 95 mph. He was drafted in the 40th round by the Colorado Rockies out of high school, before heading to the University of Oregon.
OCC sophomore Keegan Yuhl, listed at 6-0, 220 pounds, both of which might fudge somewhat in his favor, appears more in need of a personal trainer than an agent. His fastball ranges from 88 to 92 mph and, despite a 29-4 record in three varsity seasons at Poway High in San Diego County, he was largely ignored by scouts before heading to San Diego State.
Going into the California Community College Athletic Assn. Baseball Championship, a four-team, double-elimination tournament Friday through Sunday at Bakersfield College, Brennan and Yuhl are both 11-1.
Brennan, who is expected to start the Pirates' second game on Saturday, has a 1.12 earned-run average in 98 1/3 innings, spanning 13 starts. He has allowed only 68 hits while striking out 65 and walking 22.
Yuhl, expected to start the opener Friday at noon against Sierra (25-15-1), has a 1.88 ERA in 91 innings, spanning 12 starts. The Orange Empire Conference Pitcher of the Year has two saves with 74 strikeouts and 21 walks. He has allowed 92 hits.
"They've been great all year," said OCC Coach John Altobelli, whose 36-5-1 squad won the school's first outright conference title since 1987, earned the No. 1 ranking in one national poll, and is the top seed for the state tournament. "Most teams hope to have one guy like this on their staff. But to have two of them, obviously, makes for a special year. And that's kind of what is going on now."
Brennan has committed to play at the University of Houston next year. But, projected by some to be drafted in the first five rounds in June, he is anxious to begin a professional career.
A former standout at Capistrano Valley High, he said his craft was not then honed well enough to produce success at the Division I level.
"In high school, you could kind of get by just on talent," Brennan said. "But when you get up to Division I, like I was at Oregon, you've got to develop skill. I had a lot of raw talent, but I needed to develop that into skill. That's what I've been doing ever since. I was always a kid in high school who could throw 94 or 95 mph, but I didn't necessarily know where it was going. Here, I can take that 94 and I'm able to pound it on one side of the plate or the other and consistently do it throughout a game."
Brennan also said he has grasped the psychology of becoming dominant on the mound.
"You always want to be the most confident person on the field, at all times," he said. "And, the fact is, I'm much more mentally tough right now. I'm able to handle critical situations better, like having guys on base, and guys in scoring position with no outs. It's body language, showing that in a critical situation, you're still calm."
Brennan's demeanor on the mound has impressed some as much as his repertoire.
"He knows what he wants to do," said OCC sophomore outfielder Chris Carlson, the OEC Player of the Year. "He believes he is the best pitcher on the mound and nobody is going to beat him. He just has that presence … that I'm going to beat you [mentality]."
Altobelli said Brennan could be drafted as high as the third round.
"I think his stock has gone up," Altobelli said.
Yuhl, who was 4-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts last season at San Diego City College, said his fitness and maturity created fodder for disbelieving scouts, who are conditioned to covet taller flame throwers, even though they may still lack a working knowledge of the craft of compiling outs, innings and victories.
"I've always been the underdog kind of guy," said Yuhl, who learned about OCC from fellow San Diego native Matt Moynihan, who was the OEC Player of the Year for the Pirates' in 2011, before heading to the University of Texas. "I know I have to prove myself wherever I am. Every year is starting over for me. There's disrespect in the baseball world. That's just the way it is and you learn to accept it."
But the lingering effects of the naysayers have become a prime motivating factor, Yuhl said.