Blue Rocks' Pounders wins Moniker Madness

Royals pitching prospect edges Batts, Pankake, Biter for 2014 crown

Brooks Pounders has pitched in eight games across two levels for the Royals this season. (Wilmington Blue Rocks)

By Danny Wild / | August 29, 2014 5:13 PM

It was in a garage where Brad and Mary Pounders rallied their friends in support of their son, Brooks. The pitching prospect with the unique name had a shot at glory, and he gave the elder Pounders a shot at vindication.

"I was supposed to named Brooks Robinson Pounders, that's what my dad wanted," Brooks Pounders said, "but my mom wouldn't let that happen."

Pounders, thanks to a name both fun and familiar to baseball fans, claimed the 2014 Moniker Madness championship on Thursday after weeks of fan voting to determine the best name in Minor League Baseball. A right-hander in the Royals system, he said he was excited to win, but maybe not quite as ecstatic as his father.

"I think we were both really happy, I know he's a little more happy though," said Pounders, who has appeared in eight games this season between Rookie-level Idaho Falls and his current team, the Class A Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks. "It was his goal in life to name me after the best baseball name."

Pounders, a 23-year-old from Temecula, California, said his parents got behind him this summer when he became a contender in Moniker Madness,'s annual contest to determine the fans' favorite name in the Minors. Brad Pounders, who spent five seasons in the Minors with San Diego, asked his friends for help.

"My parents have a close group of friends, a big group of people, they all hang out in a garage," Pounders laughed. "And they all pitched in and voted a lot."

But it clearly wasn't only the votes of Pounders' extended family that earned Brooks the crown. Pounders beat out a field of intriguing contestants, including Mat Batts (No. 2), Joey Pankake (No. 3), Nik Nowottnick (No. 4) and Venn Biter (No. 5).

"There were some clever names, Jose Jose is pretty good, you can't make that up," Pounders said of the D-backs Minor Leaguer who finished 10th. "That's pretty original. I liked Hamburger -- Mark Hamburger. Nik Nowottnick ... those are tough to beat. So it's an honor. I want to thank all the fans and everyone who voted for me."

Pounders, whose full name is Brooks Casey Pounders, said his mom put her foot down when it came to having her son named after the Orioles' Hall of Fame third baseman. Even so, his dad took some ribbing over the name.

"I don't know, I think it was one of those things. She didn't want to deal with it," Pounders said. "She wanted her say."

Pounders said his dad, a corner infielder from 1984-88, idolized Brooks Robinson while growing up. The elder Powers, a 1984 third-round Draft pick, actually put up some big numbers in the Minors, posting consecutive seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in 1986-87. But back surgery derailed his career two years before Brooks was born. By then, his father, who had made it onto the Padres' 40-man roster, was on a mission to have a baseball-playing son with a recognizable baseball name.

"It's kind of a funny name, my dad got a lot of heat for it," Pounders said. "When he played, he was a power-hitting third baseman, so it was perfect for him. And so it's going to work well for me, I'm pounding the strike zone. It's just a great last name."

Pounders is the latest in a line of uniquely named prospects to win, including Sicnarf Loopstok (2013), Rock Shoulders (2012) and Seth Schwindenhammer (2011). Rowdy Hardy, who won in 2010, also played for the Blue Rocks.

Pounders, the Pirates' 2009 second-round pick, said he didn't realize he was even in this season's contest until someone tweeted about it. He also didn't think he had a shot at winning.

"No, not really at all, there were a lot of unique names out there. People really liked mine, so I was kinda surprised," he said. "I didn't know I was in it until Wilmington retweeted something."

Pounders said he didn't vote for himself, but he's glad he won, both for himself and his dad.

"I think it's just a name to most people, but to my dad, it was more than a name," he said. "It was somebody he looked up to."

Danny Wild is an editor for Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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