Like many people across the United States on Wednesday afternoon, Brent Killam was working at his desk, sneaking glances at the MLB Draft tracker.
The only difference between Killam and most other MLB fans this week is that he was anxiously waiting to see his own name pop up on the screen.
Eventually, that moment came when the Los Angeles Angels selected Killam with the 331st overall pick in the 11th round of the MLB Draft — putting into focus a lifelong dream for the former Venice High baseball player.
“I was working on a project and my phone just started blowing up,” said Killam, who is an intern with INTL FCStone in Winter Park. “Like, ‘Hey, congrats. That’s awesome, all the hard work paid off.’ And then I was like, ‘Oh, gosh. OK, maybe I should go check the tracker.’ Then I saw it, pick 331: Brent Killam from Georgetown.
“You see other people’s names and you feel kind of removed from the draft. Then you get that call and you’re just like, ‘Wow, that’s me. I’m up there, too.’ It was definitely a surreal moment.”
Though he’s solely a pitcher now, Killam was more of a hitter and outfielder with Venice, hitting .442 — the fifth highest batting average in team history —in 2016, as he was named Team MVP. Killam also won the team GPA award that year with a 4.7 GPA at Pine View. He’s since continued his efforts in the classroom, being named to the Big East All-Academic team in 2018.
Along with his versatility, Killam is known for making a play to the plate in the 2015 state tournament that saved the game and helped the Indians win their fourth state championship.
“Brent Killam was a really special player here at Venice High School,” Indians baseball coach Craig Faulkner said. “He’s one of those guys who graduated from Pine View and is off-the-charts smart in school and on the baseball field. He made the biggest plays at the biggest times. Big time hitting. Great pitching.
“He is a winner. We are delighted he got drafted, and he’s gonna have a great career.”
Now a left-handed pitcher for Georgetown University, Killam had been in contact with the Angels leading up to the draft, but was left guessing as to when he’d be drafted due to a lat injury he dealt with this spring.
Coming off a good summer in the Cape Cod League, Killam took most of the fall off in order to rest up his arm after pitching a full collegiate season and through the summer months.
So, the Hoyas junior felt a bit rusty coming into the spring, and it took a few starts for him to find his groove.
It all came together for Killam pitching on March 9 in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte. Though he took the loss, Killam dominated Kansas that day — striking out 13 Jayhawks and allowing no earned runs across 5 2/3 innings. Over his next two starts, he struck out 18 batters in 11 2/3 innings.
But just as Killam was getting in rhythm, he was derailed by a lat injury on March 31.
It was the first significant injury of Killam’s baseball career, and couldn’t have come at a much more important time.
With the draft quickly approaching, Killam tried to make it back to the mound in just over three weeks — at least one to two weeks ahead of schedule.
“I was completely fine up until I threw my first ‘pen,” he said. “I threw a 12 pitch ‘pen and on the 12th pitch, I threw a slider and I tweaked it again. It was all new to me, not being able to pitch. It was tough to watch my guys go out there and compete and not being able to.”
The re-injury marked the end of Killam’s season, leaving his draft expectations up to his best guess. Coming into the year, he heard he’d be drafted anywhere from rounds 6-10. After the injury, he heard he could be selected in any round from 10-20, he said.
So, when he was out golfing after work on Tuesday and got a call from the Angels, he couldn’t help but get excited. Though he kept checking his phone the rest of the day, the call wouldn’t come until Wednesday afternoon at work.
Killam’s selection means the end of his time as an intern with INTL FCStone. However, Killam made sure there is a stipulation in his contract that will allow him to return to Georgetown this fall and in the fall of 2020 to complete his finance degree.
But for now, he’s headed out to Tempe, Arizona next week to be evaluated by the Angels at their spring training facility. After that, he’ll either be shipped out to play Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz (Utah) or be sent to play for the Low A team — the Burlington Bees (Iowa).
Wherever he goes, he’s excited to officially begin chasing his dream of playing at the MLB level.
“I feel like this is kind of like a stepping stone,” Killam said. “Obviously, my goal isn’t just to get drafted, it’s to succeed and make it to the farthest possible place. So it’s really cool to have this opportunity.
“I want to take it and run with it. Now, I have a chance to prove myself and make it up the ranks. Hopefully, one day, I’ll play for the Angels on the Major League stage. We’ll see.”