Branden Kline, a former All-Met pitcher at Thomas Johnson High, grew up with two parents as Baltimore Orioles fans, so just to keep things interesting, he long ago adopted the Boston Red Sox as his favorite team.
That changed early Tuesday afternoon. The Orioles drafted the University of Virginia junior right-hander in the second round of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.
So with the flicker of his name on the TV screen, the Frederick native went from a Sox fan to a prospect who could someday play pro ball in his home town or at a nearby affiliate, or best yet, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Kline was watching the draft on the MLB channel while cleaning out his locker in the Virginia clubhouse when he learned the news that would doubly thrill his parents, Linda Kline and Gary Bowens. He was selected 65th overall.
“My heart kind of stopped,” Kline said in a conference call. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Kline, who has been a starter, middle reliever and closer in Charlottesville, said he is open to any role in the Orioles organization.
As a sophomore, he tied the Cavaliers’ school record with 18 saves, which ranked third in the nation. This season, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Kline went 7-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 16 games, 15 of them starts. He struck out 94 batters in 932 / 3innings and walked 43.
Kline was a relative unknown heading into his senior year at Thomas Johnson in 2009 but his increasing velocity soon attracted attention from pro scouts. That season he went 6-1 with a 0.51 ERA and allowed only 15 hits in 41 innings, with 79 strikeouts.
His Red Sox drafted him in the sixth round out of high school, the 198th pick overall, but he opted to play for Virginia and has no regrets about doing so.
In three years of college ball, he improved his draft position and enhanced his life.
“I’ve loved every minute I’ve been at this institution,” Kline said. “I’ve met some of my best friends I’ll know for the rest of my life both on the team and off the team. The coaching staff will always be there for the players who stay or leave. I’d not be here without any of them.”