By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This year’s MLB Draft is now in the books. Several local players heard their names called fulfilling the lifelong dream of getting the chance to play pro baseball. St. Joe’s University product Ryan Kemp knows exactly what that feels like. Last season he was drafted in the 14th round by the Cincinnati Reds.
A right-handed reliever, Kemp is coming out of the bullpen this season for the Reds’ Single-A team in Ohio, the Dayton Dragons.
“I feel like I’ve been throwing alright ,” Kemp tells KYW Newsradio. “Lately, I’ve given up a couple runs here and there. But I try to minimize the damage and try to do the best with what I have on any given day.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Ryan Kemp:
It would appear by the numbers that Kemp is throwing much better than he is letting on. In 21 games, Kemp has twirled 31 1/3 innings. He is 1-0 with 3 saves and a 2.87 ERA. He has allowed just two home runs and 14 walks while striking out 23 batters.
Kemp says a lot of the credit for those impressive numbers has to go to his college coach with the Hawks, Fritz Hamburg.
“He helped me develop as a pitcher so much. He really stressed the importance of throwing strikes. That was my biggest problem going into St. Joe’s. For my freshman and sophomore years I still struggled with it a little bit, walked too many guys. He worked with me a lot, he helped me out and I can’t give him enough credit. If it weren’t for him – sure there were other people that helped me out along the way – but if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know that I could say I’d be here today.”
The 21-year-old Kemp is already making his third stop up the ladder in the Cincinnati organization and he says is truly enjoying the very rare opportunity he is getting to play pro baseball.
“You gotta soak it in while you have it. This opportunity isn’t going to be here for me for my whole life. While it lasts I just got to make the best of it, gotta make the most of it, work hard, try and keep getting better every day. My personal motto is ‘stay humble and stay hungry.’ I’m far away from the ultimate goal which is obviously reaching the Major Leagues but this is just great. I can’t even tell you how it feels to be able to do this. I play professional baseball. It’s a very humbling experience and at the same time, I’m pretty proud of myself for making it as far as I have.”
Kemp was one of two St. Joe’s Hawks drafted in 2011. RHP A.J. Holland was taken in the 16th round by the Braves. He is currently a member of Atlanta’s Rookie League team in Danville.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.