Around the world, every kid who plays baseball dreams of one day playing in the big show, however, not everyone will get that opportunity. In fact, 10.5 percent of college seniors are drafted and only 0.5 percent of high school seniors find themselves with a spot in the majors. In other words, that dream, could seem exactly that, a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.
Setting a program record, the dream became a reality for eight Mountaineers. Of the group was Junior right-handed pitcher, Kade Strowd. Strowd was driving back home to Fort Worth, Texas when he got the news he was drafted in the 12th round by the Baltimore Orioles. Strowd couldn’t believe the wonderful news and was overcome with joy at the opportunity to play at the next level.
“I was actually driving home to Texas, I was thinking I would get a call on day three, I didn’t know when. Obviously I was ecstatic, it was a dream come true.”
After finding out the news, he was excited, but, knew he had a decision to make. He could be thankful for the opportunity but return to school for his senior year, or go ahead and take the leap and accept the offer to sign with the Orioles. Strowd decided on the latter as he knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity right now to play at the next level.
“I see it as an opportunity I’ve been working for my entire life. Obviously had expectations for this draft, I mean if I went late, I wasn’t going to take it. It would of been more beneficial for me to go back and get my degree in four years and probably play it, and sign as a senior. But, I think it is my time, I think I’m ready. I couldn’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity.”
Strowd immediately looked up where the Orioles minor league teams were located and noticed they all were very close to West Virginia. Although he was driving home to Texas when he found out he had been drafted, he eventually turned around and headed back to West Virginia.
“All of them are in Maryland and Virginia, so there was no reason for me to take my car home, I was two hours away from West Virginia, and I just turned around, and went back. I got on a flight back to Texas that night.”
Strowd’s journey began at Mansfield Legacy High School where he was named 2015 Underclass Honorable Mention All-America honoree and 17u WWVA All-Tournament team by Perfect Game. Strowd was the 78th ranked right handed pitcher in the state of Texas coming out of high school. The big question, how did he end up in Morgantown and not play at TCU?
“I was pitching in a tournament at TCU, coach Matlock saw me there, the next day he reached out to me. Kind of ironic when we were playing TCU every year.”
Despite not playing at his hometown university, Strowd still played in the Big 12, and went against some of the best players and programs in the country. For him, the learning curve was simple coming out of high school. He couldn’t get away with making many mistakes and he had to tighten up if he wanted to win games and be successful.
“It was pretty obvious I was going to be facing guys who were going to be big leaguers in the Big 12. I could get away with more mistakes in high school, those mistakes I made in college, I usually regretted them right away.”
Along the way while learning from his mistakes, Strowd would have several pitching coaches throughout his collegiate career in Morgantown. Mazey would eventually take over pitching duties and became instrumental in helping Strowd improve his abilities on the mound.
“It was awesome. Going from pitching coach to pitching coach the past three years, it was kind of different, I never had to go through that before. Coach Mazey put me in the best spot possible and gave me all the opportunity in the world.”
Outside of Mazey and the coaching staff Strowd experienced at WVU, he also had a bunch of other pitchers around him who understood their roles and knew how to be successful. Strowd enjoyed the competitive atmosphere that lead to laughs and a pure appreciation for one another which eventually lead to the success this season.
“I feel like everyone knew their place and knew their role, whether you were a starting pitcher, a reliever, a late reliever, or closer. And I think that’s why we went into every game thinking we can win, and having the confidence you need to beat any team in the country.”
While Strowd will forgo his junior year and sign with the Orioles, the decision wasn’t easy for a guy who enjoyed playing in Morgantown, the place that provided him the opportunity to show his skills on the big stage in an elite conference. So, what exactly will Strowd miss about being a Mountaineer?
“The environment, inside the locker room, and playing together. We all got along, just the culture in and out of the locker room was just unbelievable. I don’t think a team can be as good as they can be unless the culture was as good as ours was.”
Although Strowd will not return next year in a Mountaineer uniform, you could see him back in Morgantown with the Orioles short season team in Aberedene, Maryland where his team will take on the West Virginia Black Bears. Strowd said he was looking forward to the opportunity to return to Morgantown and that it would be a nice homecoming for a Texas kid who made Morgantown his home for the last three years.
“I think we play the Black Bears July 10th or July 12th back on the home field, that will be a blast to visit once again.”
We look forward to seeing you back in town Kade and good luck at the next level. If you want to listen to the entire interview, CLICK HERE