Marlins' Brantly has family ties to Panama

Marlins' Brantly has family ties to Panama

JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins catcher Rob Brantly was raised in San Diego, and he played his college ball at California-Riverside.

There also is a little known fact about the 24-year-old Brantly. He has family ties to Panama, and he was asked to play for Team Panama in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Brantly's late grandfather, Juan Pablo Brantly, was born in Chame, Panama. The catcher still has relatives in the country.

"I was even thinking about the opportunity to play for Panama in the World Baseball Classic," Brantly said. "They called me up. If I had qualified, I would have had to miss my first Spring Training with the Marlins, so I had to respectfully decline."

This weekend, the Marlins are playing two exhibition games against the Yankees in Panama, but Brantly wasn't part of the trip.

Half of the Miami team, including manager Mike Redmond, traveled to Panama on Friday in preparation for games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Brantly, though, stayed back in Jupiter, and he caught against the Mets on Friday night at Roger Dean Stadium.

"I have not been to Panama," Brantly said. "I have family there, and they've come to America to visit us. I'm sure I'll get an opportunity to go down there, whether it's a future World Baseball Classic or if I go down there on vacation to see family."

American-born players can qualify playing for other countries if they have family ties.

Carlos Lee, who played for the Marlins in 2012, is from Panama, and he helped arrange Team Panama giving Brantly a call.

Brantly would have seriously considered, but last Spring Training, he was competing for a starting big league job.

"That would have been great opportunity to represent the area of the country where my grandfather was born," Brantly said. "Carlos Lee contacted them for me. That's how I got connected with them. But it would have been my first Spring Training as the starting catcher with the Marlins."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter