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LINCOLN â€” Call what happened to Lincolnâ€™s Chris Pickering on Wednesday afternoon a pleasant and unexpected surprise â€“ that of getting selected by the San Francisco Giants on the third and final day of the MLB Draft.
â€śI was actually working when I checked my phone and saw that I had a bunch of voicemails and text messages from friends,â€ť said Pickering when reached later in the day, still digesting the news that he had been taken with the 988th pick in the 32nd round. â€śHonestly, I got two of those questionnaires you fill out and send to all the [major league] teams, but I never had actual contact with any of them.
â€śThis whole thing came out of nowhere,â€ť the lefthanded pitcher continued. â€śItâ€™s exciting and an opportunity for me to start a new career.â€ť
Just like that, Pickeringâ€™s job at Boston Sports Club â€“ a fitness complex located in the aforementioned city â€“ has been placed on hold. The 23-year-old had secured full-time employment not too long after graduating from the University Rhode Island last month. This weekend, he was all set to scope out the apartment scene in Boston.
â€śNow I have to go and talk to my boss,â€ť Pickering said with a slight chuckle. â€śIâ€™ve only been working there for a week. Hopefully theyâ€™ll want me back, but letâ€™s hope that wonâ€™t be for a while.â€ť
As he talked about his new venture, Pickering took a moment to reflect on just how far heâ€™s come. You would be hard pressed to find a more heartwarming draft tale than the one this Lincoln High graduate (Class of 2007) has authored. He missed his junior season at URI because of shoulder surgery, his second major operation after recovering from elbow surgery following his junior season at Lincoln.
In each instance, Pickering was successful in his quest to return to the mound.
â€śWith all the surgeries, you have to put in the extra work, but the support group I had around me, it was nice to know that people still believed in me,â€ť he noted.
In his final season in Kingston, Pickering turned in a 7-7 record with a 5.73 ERA in 15 starts, the redshirt senior striking out 51 batters over 86 1/3 innings pitched. He finished his collegiate career with 168 strikeouts and 22 wins.
â€śThe year went a little better than the numbers suggest,â€ť said Pickering, who in his final appearance with the Rams worked 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball against St. Josephâ€™s in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
What helped put Pickering on the map was his showing last summer with the Bourne Braves of the prestigious Cape Cod League. Originally signed to a contract that was supposed to last only a couple of weeks, he was able to prolong his stay and remain with the ball club through the end of its playoff run. With the Braves, Pickering went 1-3 with a 3.32 ERA in nine games, seven of them starts.
The same Giants scout who first laid eyes on Pickering while he performed on the Cape made it a point to stop by South County this spring. Even though Pickering recognized the face, he never once engaged in face-to-face conversation with the scout.
â€śHe never came up and talked to me,â€ť he said. â€śHe just came out of nowhere.â€ť
The mystery Giants scout will follow up with on Pickering on Thursday. Come Sunday, he will fly out to clubâ€™s spring training complex in Arizona, where heâ€™ll undergo a physical. From there, heâ€™s expected to be assigned to San Franciscoâ€™s Short-Season Class A affiliate located in Keizer, Oregon.
In true Pickering fashion, he planned to celebrate his big day in low-key fashion. â€śIâ€™d like to see my friends and hang out with my family.â€ť