Robby Kidwell’s childhood dream became a reality the night of June 14 when the Chopticon High School graduate was chosen in the 36th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the New York Mets.
“Oh, I’m real real excited,” Kidwell said in a telephone interview with Southern Maryland Newspapers on Thursday. “It was a big relief. I still can’t believe it’s real. Baseball’s been a big chunk of my life, and now it’s a new future for me.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound catcher spent Wednesday hitting some golf balls and just hanging out with some friends at his Leonardtown home because a few scouts had told him not to wait by phone because “it’s just a waiting game, so just go do stuff and have a normal day.”
Kidwell had been contacted by the Mets and Washington Nationals earlier in the day and the Mets had informed him he would be picked, though the team was unsure in which round.
Late in the evening as he and his friends set up a badminton net, Kidwell received a call from Mets representative Danial Cole.
“He asked if I’d want to go in this round,” Kidwell said. “I said I just wanted the opportunity to go play and make dreams come true and make my way up to the big leagues. He then asked if I wanted to go to school or not and I told him I just wanted to play baseball and I’m not about to give up that opportunity.”
He raced inside to tell his parents, who had been sitting inside from about noon anxiously watching the draft.
“I said, ‘It’s about to happen,’” Kidwell said, “and they just knew. Then they called my name and my name was on the TV. It was surreal.”
Kidwell was selected in the 36th round and 1,087th overall.
Despite the late hour, the family called Capt. Leonard’s seafood house — an establishment they often frequent — and the restaurant stayed open just for the family.
“We were all able to get together,” Kidwell said, “and that made it 10 times better.”
Kidwell graduated from Chopticon in 2015 and spent the past two years at Brunswick Community College in North Carolina.
This past season, Kidwell appeared in 43 games and batted .325 with 54 hits, including 10 doubles and eight home runs. He also added 42 runs, drove in 42 and walked 21 times. He had an on-base percentage of .400 and slugged .530. He said that he’s been working on his hitting with Billy Johnson since he was 13.
Defensively, he had 27 assists, committed just five errors and had a fielding percentage of .958.
The Dolphins finished 40-14 overall (21-5 American Athletic Conference).
Kidwell had signed to attend the University of North Carolina-Wilmington the past two seasons. But that plan is now on hold, though Kidwell said that was a tough decision to make.
“Yes, because I probably could have gone higher in the [earlier] rounds, but it’s not an issue for me because I know I can work my way up to the majors,” he said. “I know I can get up to that position and do what I need to do. I just want the opportunity to go play.”
As of Thursday evening, the New York Mets were 30-34 and 8.5 games back of the Washington Nationals in the National League East division.
Kidwell will fly to Florida on Friday morning and be assigned to either the Mets’ Single-A or Rookie teams.
“Right now I want to get down there and be with the team and just try and get up to the majors,” he said.
He also said aspiring players should not give up on their dreams.
“Keep working and don’t stop working, and if someone tells you you can’t do something, prove them wrong,” he said. “Over the years people have said, ‘I don’t think you’ll be able to do it. You’re good, but you’re not that good,’ so being able to get drafted today was a big step in telling everybody that you can do it if you put your mind to it.”