Hockaday Gets Dream Call From Orioles
By Keith Mills
His day began with a late wakeup call and seat in front of the computer. K.J. Hockaday spent the second day of the Major League Baseball amateur draft at his home in Joppatowne with his father, Kevin Sr., monitoring his future.
"We sat by the computer screen all day long waiting for my name to be called," said Hockaday, an All-State infielder at John Carroll High School in Bel Air. "There was a little anxiety, but it was still an exciting day."
Day two of the draft began at 12 p.m. Two hours later, the Hockadays' phone rang. It was Everett Tull, the Mid-Atlantic area scout for the Houston Astros, who told Hockaday the Astros wanted to pick him in the sixth round.
"But we couldn't agree on the money," Hockaday said.
So back to the computer screen he went.
Finally, as 3 p.m. turned into 4, the phone rang again. This time it was his Dean Albany, the Orioles' regional cross checker and Brooklyn Park High grad, who first began scouting Hockaday when he was a sophomore at John Carroll three years ago.
"Dean called and said the Orioles were going to pick me in the 14th round," Hockaday said. "I couldn't believe it. The Orioles!
"I dreamed about playing baseball since I was 3 years old. Baseball's been my main priority and I've tried always make good decisions."
And he has. An outstanding student, Hockaday is one of area's most dominant and polished players, and also one of the most popular. Always humble and respectful with a work ethic to match, he's been a regular on the showcase circuit the last three years, first earning a spot on the prestigious Oriolelanders fall showcase team that was coached by Albany and is now run by Tim Norris.
Norris also coaches the Youse's Maryland Orioles summer amateur team, which played the Pressman Cardinals Tuesday night at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie. Hockaday, Youse's starting third baseman, joined the team late last summer after playing the last two years for the Putty Hill summer team.
Norris is also no stranger to the draft. In 1978, after a senior year at Archbishop Curley that earned him Baltimore Sun Player of the Year honors, he was selected during the fourth round by Orioles. He spent five years in the team's farm system.
And as he and Hockaday walked across the Bachman Park parking lot after their game last night, Norris told his third baseman how much times have changed since he was taken during the draft 31 years ago, after the Orioles had just picked Larry Sheets and Cal Ripken Jr.
"I didn't even know I got drafted until one of my neighbors called and said they heard it on the radio," Norris said, "There was no Internet or MLB Network. Finally, I got a call from the Orioles and they said they had drafted me."
Hockaday helped Youse's win the All-American Amateur Baseball Association tournament last August in Johnstown, Pa. He followed that with a tremendous year for second-year coach Joe Stetka at John Carroll, where his batting average was better than .400 and he broke Mark Teixeira's MIAA career home run record earlier this year with 30.
His outstanding senior season has earned him a spot in this year's Brooks Robinson All-Star Classic at Camden Yards, which will be played on Sunday afternoon after the Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays. Hockaday; his mother, Tina; and dad, Kevin, were at Camden Yards on Wednesday for the Brooks Robinson All-Star press conference.
It's all made for an incredibly chaotic and hectic, but extremely rewarding and satisfying, last few months, which were highlighted by Tuesday's phone call from Albany to a grateful and determined 6-foot-3, 215-pound teenager, who will attend the University of Maryland in the fall if he does not sign with the Orioles.
"I am very excited," Hockaday said. "All the hard work that I've put it, the sacrifice, I'm happy to see that it's paid off."
Tina joined Hockaday at Bachman Park Tuesday night to watch part of his Youse's Orioles game, though his dad was a rare no-show. He was back in Harford County coaching Hockaday's sister, Alyssa, and her softball team.
"My dad, he's my biggest fan," Hockaday said. "He's the first one to pat me on the back. He's been to almost every one of my games since I was 9 years old and that means a lot."
Hockaday is one of a handful of players with local ties who were taken during the first two days of the draft.
Eric Potter: Arundel High/Maryland
Oakland Athletics, 19th Round
Potter, a left-handed pitcher, led Arundel to the 2006 Class 4A state championship, the last of Bernie Walter's 10 as the Wildcats’ coach. He was also the South's starting pitcher in the '06 Brooks Robinson All-Star game. During his senior year at Maryland, he struck out 68 batters in 65 innings and held opposing hitters to a .208 average.
Charlie Cononie: Northwest High/Towson University
Tampa Bay Rays, 24th Round
A 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher, Cononie earned second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors after a senior year that saw him win eight games and post a 3.39 earned run average. He was also named CAA Pitcher of the Week twice. A graduate of Northwest High in Montgomery County, he played for coach Matt Noble in high school and is one of three straight Towson June draftees.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Drew Permission of Oakland Mills High in Columbia during the 42nd round of last year's draft, while the St. Louis Cardinals picked pitcher Josh Squatrito during the 2009 draft. Three other former Tigers are now playing in the major or minor leagues as well. The Dodgers drafted Shane Justis out of Towson in 2005, Brian Conley signed with the Orioles three years ago and Casper Wells is an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers.
Kevin Brady: Gaithersburg High/Clemson
Cleveland Indians, 17th Round
One of the most dominant high school pitchers in state history, Brady was a righthanded flame-thrower for coach Jason Woodward at Gaithersburg, where he re-wrote the school's record book. Originally drafted during the 44th round by the Orioles in '08, he finished his high school career with a 19-2 record and 1.05 ERA in 140 innings. He earned 2008 Player of the Year honors from the Washington Post.
Brady also pitched in the Brooks Robinson All-Star game before moving on to the Youse's Maryland Orioles, where he was one of the top prospects in the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League. He missed most of his freshman year at Clemson because of injury and the Indians drafted him as a redshirt sophomore, which means if he does not sign, he still has two more years to play at Clemson.
Jed Bradley: Georgia Tech
Milwaukee Brewers, First Round
John Hicks: Virginia
Seattle Mariners, Sixth Round
Bradley and Hicks were teammates of Brady's on the '08 Youse's Orioles, helping them win their 26th AAABA championship. Bradley, a graduate of Huntsville High in Alabama, is a lefthanded pitcher who just completed his junior year at Georgia Tech. The Milwaukee Brewers made him the 15th overall player picked during the first round of this year's draft. He's 18-11 during his three years at Tech with 254 career strikeouts in 234 innings.
Hicks is the starting catcher on a Virginia team that played UC-Irvine during the NCAA Super Regionals in Charlottesville. A lightning-quick catcher, the junior from Goochland High in Sandy Hook, Va., earned first-team All-ACC honors by hitting .339 with 54 doubles. The Seattle Mariners selected Hicks during the fourth round of the draft and he is one of six current Virginia players to be chosen. Tyler Wilson is another. The Orioles picked the right-handed starting pitcher during the 10th round.
Danny Hultzen: St. Albans/Virginia
Seattle Mariners, First Round
Hultzen grew up in Bethesda and is Virginia's best pitcher. Arizona originally selected Hultzen, a 6-foot-3 left-hander, out of St. Albans in 2008 during the 10th round, but he decided to attend Virginia. Hultzen is 11-3 this year with a 1.57 ERA.
Posted June 8, 2011. Updated June 14, 2011