When Jeff Kemp got the call from Chris Gale with the Orioles’ baseball operations and scouting team, he had a couch in hand.
“I was actually helping a few friends move,” said Kemp, a Bowie native speaking in his Aberdeen IronBirds jersey during a media event Thursday at Ripken Stadium.
After being drafted in the 33rd round of this month’s MLB draft out of Radford, the Archbishop Spalding graduate won’t have to move himself far to start his professional career. He’ll return home with the Orioles’ short-season Single-A affiliate
He was a rare sight Thursday, where many of the recent draftees were either unsigned or assigned to the Orioles’ Florida Gulf Coast League team.
“I’m really blessed to start out here in Aberdeen and not the GCL,” Kemp said. “I really didn't know where I’d be. Being this close to home, having family and friends being able to come and see me play is gonna be really cool.”
Playing shortstop over his career, the lefty hitter finished his fifth-year senior season at Radford with a .284/.444/.588 line in 45 games, leading the team in RBIs (34) and home runs (10).
Following his Big South Conference Freshman of the Year season in 2009, Kemp went to Alabama to receive surgery from Dr. James Andrews on his right and left shoulders in the summer, forcing him to miss his sophomore campaign. He had his season cut short in 2011 with a hand injury.
“I’ve gone through a lot of adversity,” Kemp said. “I’ve had a lot of injuries throughout, had a tough road getting back from those injuries. I think it’ll really help me out in the minor league lifestyle, definitely.
“Knowing how bad I wanted to get back really pushed me."
Listed as an infielder, Kemp said he wasn’t sure what position he’d play with the IronBirds, who open their season at 7:35 p.m. Monday at Ripken Stadium.
“Wherever they want me to play, I’ll play,” he said.