Scott Kalush, a product of the San Mateo Little League (American) program, grew up as a fan of the Giants and saw his first game in person when he was about 6.
Now he is 3,000 miles away from home and becoming entrenched in the culture of the Baltimore Orioles.
Kalush, a catcher, was drafted in the 39th round in June by the Orioles out of UC Davis. He began his pro career in Florida in the Gulf Coast League, where he played in one game, before being sent to the Aberdeen (MD) IronBirds of the Class A short-season New York-Penn League.
Aberdeen, less than one hour north of Baltimore, is a farm team of the Orioles and the co-owner is Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. who grew up in Aberdeen and was an All-Star with the O’s. Kalush was not with the team when Ripken threw out the first ball at a game in June.
“It has been awesome. It is a great area,” Kalush told Patch of playing at Ripken Stadium. “The stadium is really nice and the fans are great. Getting to play baseball every day is exactly what I wanted to do. I could not ask for more.”
Even so Kalush, 22 and a 2008 graduate of Aragon High, had a backup plan in case he did not get drafted after his senior at UC Davis.
He majored in mechanical engineering and aerospace design in college and is a few credits shy of a degree, which he hopes to finish this fall when he returns home when the Aberdeen season ends in early September.
“I would like to become an astronaut,” said Kalush, whose father, Ed, has worked as an engineer. The younger Kalush was working on the application for an internship with NASA around the time he was drafted by the Orioles in early June.
But baseball runs in the family as well. His brother, Steve, pitched at Santa Clara but did not get the chance to play pro ball.
“It is definitely more of a grind than college since you have a game every night,” Kalush said. “It is weird to have new teammates all of the time” since players are promoted and demoted regularly.
The longest bus trip he made early on was one of about eight hours from Maryland to Ohio. The bus left Aberdeen at 6 a.m., just three hours after Kalush had arrived after playing in Florida.
The Aberdeen roster in late August included pitchers Bennett Parry (Poway) and Sebastian Vader (San Marcos) of California. Pitcher Aaron Wirsch of Trabuco Canyon, CA was on the disabled list.
Better known as a strong defensive catcher, Kalush has struggled as a hitter with Aberdeen as he hit just .135 in his first 74 at bats with one double and three RBIs. His manager is Gary Allenson, a former Major League catcher with Boston and Toronto and a native of Culver City, CA.
“I have tried a bunch of different things. I am trying to stay short to the ball” with his swing, said Kalush, who hit .240 in 175 at bats with UC Davis last spring. “I am trying to get comfortable being at a higher level. I have always been a better (defensive) catcher than a hitter.”
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