Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — For Paints catcher Dylan Shockley, Wednesday’s round of batting practice was unlike any other he’d ever taken.
Shockley, in between swings, kept checking his cell phone sitting on the tire of the cage. He’d heard murmurs of his name possibly being selected by a Major League club, but nothing concrete.
“I had my phone right there on the wheel of the turtle and I was waiting on the phone call,” Shockley said. “I had just got done talking to [Paints assistant coach] Chad [Roberts] and said, ‘Hey, if I don’t get picked or hear anything, I’m not sure that’ll be ready to play today mentally.”
When Shockley finished his round of BP, he grabbed his glove and headed to the outfield of VA Memorial Stadium to shag fly balls.
Then, his phone rang.
“My heart dropped and I instantly swiped right and said, ‘Hello,'” he said.
Shockley’s name had indeed been called by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who took him in the 34th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
“As soon as I’m walking out to the outfield, after BP, I get the call from the Pirates and they say, ‘Congrats, you’re a Pittsburgh Pirate,’ … it’s an unbelievable feeling,” Shockley said.
The journey to that point didn’t taken the smoothest of paths.
As a sophomore at Minford High School, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Then, while at the University of Rio Grande, he underwent two knee surgeries in the same calendar year.
But none of that had an effect on Shockley pursuing a lifelong dream.
This past season at Rio Grande, the catcher hit .373 with five home runs and 46 RBIs. Those numbers led to a second straight NAIA All-American honor.
His career average with the RedStorm sits at .363 alongside 13 long balls and 120 RBIs.
“I mean … just, everything I went through just to get to where I am now,” Shockley said when asked what went through his head when he heard the news. “But I put in the work to get to where I am now and it’s paid off.”
Being drafted by the Pirates means Shockley’s time as a Paint has come to an end. This year would’ve been his second stint in Chillicothe — he played for the Paints in the summer of 2016.
“[Paints coach] Brian Bigam is an awesome guy,” Shockley said. “I definitely wanted to come back to Chillicothe and play for him. I couldn’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me. My freshman year [at Rio Grande], playing for the Paints, he helped me through all the struggles I had and helped me get to the level I’m at now. When the opportunity to come back this season came, I was 100 percent in.”
And, wherever Shockley’s baseball career takes him, he certainly won’t forget his Southern Ohio roots.
“One guy I really want to say thank you to is [former Minford coach] Tim Martin,” Shockley said. “He was my coach since I was six years old, tugging on his shirt saying, ‘Let me pitch.’ He’s like a father figure to me and I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me.”
Shockley will now board a plane in less than 48 hours after learning of his rookie ball assignment.
“All the struggles I went through, coming back from Tommy John surgery, two knee surgeries in one year … I thought baseball was going to be a fun thing for me,” he said. “Today makes all of that worth it.”