Kevin Holcomb put his future in motion four years ago when he decided to transfer from Frazier Mountain to Independence to help jump-start his baseball career.
Holcomb made the move because he wanted to better his chances of making a life-long dream of becoming a professional baseball player a reality.
On Wednesday, Holcomb had a day few get to experience.
Holcomb drove down to Los Angeles in the morning and signed a scholarship offer to play at No. 1 UCLA in the office of head coach John Savage after the Bruins recruited him heavily after playing the past two seasons at Glendale Community College in Southern California.
A few hours later, Holcomb was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 13th round (406th overall) of the MLB Draft.
“I signed with UCLA in Coach Savage’s office in the morning and then drafted that afternoon,” Holcomb said. “It was awesome. What a day.”
Unknowing of what Independence had to offer, Holcomb met Falcons’ head coach Chad Shelton the first day of school of his junior year in 2015.
“I just walked up to (Shelton) and asked him if he was the baseball coach,” Holcomb said. “I introduced myself and went from there.”
Holcomb quickly became an ace for Independence, striking out 101 batters his senior year in 2017.
His fastball hovered around 87 mph in high school and now is throwing in the mid-90s.
Now comes the decision of a lifetime of weighing his options between working towards a degree in college at the top program in the country or getting into the minor league system immediately for an organization that won the World Series in 2017.
“I have to weigh what I can get out of each,” Holcomb said. “At UCLA I can get a degree and play for one of the top coaches in the nation. Going with the Astros, it’s about getting a chance to start right away. Can’t go wrong either way.”
Shelton knows the future is bright for Holcomb, whom he considers a late bloomer in the sport because he was not playing competitively year-round until he moved to Bakersfield.
“He started throwing so late, I knew once he started playing baseball year-round this could happen,” Shelton said. “But it being this early is crazy.”
Holcomb was named a second-team selection, helping Glendale win the Western State Conference East Division title this season and went 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 18 appearances, starting twice.
Holcomb, who is 6-foot-5, struck out 56 batters in 50 innings this season.
Just four years removed from making the decision to try and get to the bigs, Holcomb became the first Independence graduate to get drafted and now will make another big decision in the coming weeks knowing he has two towns and a big family (youngest of six children) backing his decision.
“I love representing my small town and my family,” Holcomb said. “I am so thankful for this opportunity back home and in Bakersfield. Everyone has helped me along the way. This is amazing. I never played baseball year-round until I moved to Bakersfield.”