Westerville News & Public Opinion

Baseball

Central grad Pollock begins pro career

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM LEISING
Kyle Pollock, a 2011 Central graduate, was selected in the 20th round by the Kansas City Royals. He has reported to Idaho Falls, a short-season Class A team.
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The journey continues for former Westerville Central High School baseball standout Kyle Pollock.

As a senior in 2011, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound catcher helped lead the Warhawks to their only district championship and an appearance in a Division I regional final, where they lost to Grove City 10-3.

Pollock, who hits and throws right-handed, went on to play in college at the Division I level. He initially committed to Ohio State but ended up in Indiana at the University of Evansville, where he started each of his three seasons.

The latest stop on his journey was being selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 20th round (603rd overall) of the Major League Baseball draft held June 5-7 and beginning a professional career. He signed an undisclosed contract with the Royals on June 15 and reported to their short-season Class A team, the Idaho Falls Chukars.

Pollock, whose family now lives in the Canton area, reported to the Royals' spring training facility in Surprise, Ariz., before heading to Idaho.

"It was a blast," Pollock said, referring to being drafted and signing a pro contract. "Obviously, I've never been through anything like that. It was kind of surreal going down to Arizona and hanging out in the big-league clubhouse. It's finally starting to sink in a little bit."

Pollock made his pro debut June 17 in a 12-3 home loss to the Orem (Utah) Owlz in a Rookie Pioneer League game, going 1-for-3. Through his first three games with the Chukars, he had a .125 batting average, scored one run and had three errors behind the plate.

"Kyle is a great person, great guy," Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez said after Pollock's first game as a pro. "He looked good behind the plate the first night. It's only one game. We'll get to see more in the future."

As a junior at Evansville this spring, Pollock was named first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference after hitting .310 with 15 doubles, three triples and a team-high five home runs. He also tied for the conference lead in RBI with 50 and threw out 13 baserunners attempting to steal.

Pollock opted to forego his senior season with the Purple Aces but plans to eventually earn his college diploma. As part of his contract with the Royals, he will be compensated financially for his remaining education to complete his degree requirements.

Pollock is the second former Central player to sign a pro contract. Ben Thomas, a 2007 graduate, was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 34th round (1,047th selection) in 2011. He last played professionally in 2012 for the Giants' Class A team in the South Atlantic League, the Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets.

"(Class A in the minors) is another level up and it's really a challenge to get that far," Central coach Jeff Keifer said. "It's hard to start in high school at a Division I level. And then to play Division I baseball at the college level is also a challenge. And then to be one of (1,215 players who were selected in the 2014 draft), it means you have to have zero weaknesses in your game. You have to be that five-tool player. Kyle definitely (has) all of those skills."

As a senior at Central, Pollock led the Warhawks with a .505 batting average and 51 RBI and had seven home runs in 32 games. He was named first-team all-state and all-district and shared OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year honors with Olentangy catcher Woody Wallace.

"Playing at Central was a blast and I still keep in contact with my coaches there and all the great people I was surrounded by," Pollock said. "I've been in contact with coach Keifer and it made me think about the good old days."

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