In the year since he watched 40 rounds of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft pass by without hearing his name called, pretty much everything has gone right for Kevin Kaczmarski.
That continued on Tuesday, when the Prairie Ridge graduate’s historic senior season at Evansville culminated in his selection in this year’s draft. Kaczmarski was selected by the New York Mets in the ninth round with the 269th overall pick.
“With the season I had, everything’s been going well, going right,” Kaczmarski said. “It was like a little bow on top of the present, I guess you could say, to finish out the season real well.”
In his senior season, Kaczmarski was named to the 17-member Louisville Slugger D-I All-America first team after leading the nation in batting average (.465) and triples (nine). He also ranked second nationally with a .543 on-base percentage and a .746 slugging percentage.
The Mets were one of the teams that the center fielder worked out for prior to the draft, but he was still surprised when the selection was made. He was watching at a get-together with family and friends, and at the time of the pick, he had heard from some other teams but not the Mets.
“We heard my name and we weren’t really expecting it,” Kaczmarski said. “It kind of caught us off guard. I think that kind of made it that much more exciting, that none of us was really ready for it. We heard it and we were like, ‘Whoa, was that real?’”
It was. Kaczmarski said he felt comfortable with the Mets when he met with them and thought he did well in their workout.
The selection was no surprise to Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro, who coached him in his senior season in high school in 2010. He recalls Kaczmarski playing the game like a big kid, and last winter when he saw his former player, he encouraged him to get back to that mind-set.
“I think he was disappointed that he didn’t go his junior year and put a lot of pressure on himself,” Pecoraro said. “i think he went into senior season with the correct perspective and just enjoyed the game. It’s funny how the numbers sometimes take care of themselves when you do that.”
The .465 batting average didn’t shock Pecoraro either.
“With his speed from the left side, he puts the ball in play he’s so fast he’s got a chance at beating out a routine ground ball,” Pecoraro said. “He uses the whole ballpark and has power to all fields.”
Kaczmarski said he will meet with a Mets scout on Thursday and hopes to sign shortly thereafter. In playing professional baseball, he’ll follow the footsteps of his father, Randy, a former Padres farmhand.
After a dominant senior season, the Cary native was ready to bring that positive approach to the next level.
“I’m really happy, I’m nervous and I’m excited, but it’s a good nervous,” Kaczmarski said. “It’s something that you look forward to. You go out, learn things about it and take the challenge on.”