PROSPECT — Every June, Major League Baseball conducts its annual amateur draft, selecting players from high school through college. It’s not an exact science and unfortunately with the vast array of talents out there, some players who possess the skills to reach the next level fly under the radar. That leaves some players looking for a second chance down the road.
Prospect’s Ken Graveline, former two-time all-state pitcher and shortstop at Woodland, took his game to the University of Rhode Island. In four years with the Rams, Graveline put up some attention-grabbing statistics, including a career 19-9 record on the mound the third highest win total in school history.
“I’ve had a few open tryouts with the Red Sox, Braves and Phillies,” Graveline said. “They told me that they liked what they saw but it came down to numbers and they just didn’t have any spots open. That could change down the road so I have to stay ready and wait for another chance. I feel I have the ability to go onto the next level and so do my coaches.”
Graveline certainly got a lot of attention at Woodland where he posted a 25-10 career pitching record and batted a hefty .410, both best in school history. He was voted the top senior player in the Naugatuck Valley League during his senior year and concluded his high school career as a three-time team MVP, a three time All-NVL player, and an all-state pick in his junior and senior years.
In 240 innings of pitching high school baseball, he walked only 35 batters. In 2007, he helped Woodland win its first and only NVL championship while leading the Hawks to the Class M semifinals, the deepest tournament run in program history. He also threw two perfect games that year—one in high school and one in American Legion ball.
The tall right-hander learned that dominating in high school wasn’t the same as hurling in Division I college baseball.
“There is certainly a difference between pitching in high school and college,” Graveline said. “You need to hit your spots and have command of your fastball. You need to know when to elevate your pitches in certain situations, locating the fastball on both sides of the plate and then knowing when to keep it away.”
Graveline got his feet wet as a freshman, appearing in 13 games out of the bullpen while logging 26 innings. His sophomore year, he went 6-2, the second-best record on the team, as the Rams finished 37-20 and 19-6 in the Atlantic 10.
Graveline moved into the starting rotation as a junior and posted a string of 22 innings without allowing an earned run, finishing second on the team in wins with a 6-3 mark. Graveline concluded his college career this spring, posting a team-leading 7-4 ledger with a tidy 3.83 ERA, striking out 67 in 89 innings and allowing just nine walks.
“I’m not surprised at how well I did in college,” Graveline said. “I have always worked hard at it and I have a lot of confidence in my ability. The coaching staff at URI was a tremendous help and my teammates made all the plays behind me. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my coaches and teammates.”
Over the past four summers Graveline traveled extensively to gain experience. After his freshman year, he went to South Carolina for the summer to play in a collegiate league for the Carolina Thunder. After his sophomore season he played in Massachusetts for the North Adams SteepleCats in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
“I didn’t play summer ball after my junior season,” said Graveline. “My coaches wanted me to rest my arm after throwing a lot of innings during the season.”
This summer Graveline played for the Naugatuck Dogs and helped them to become the very first Tri-State League team to win the Stan Musial state championship, winning two games in the tournament.
“I’m having a lot of fun playing with the Naugatuck Dogs this summer,” Graveline said. “I’m playing with [former Woodland teammates] Matt Kane and Macky Cianciolo. They are good friends of mine and it’s great to be back on the field with those guys. I go back to school in the fall for one more semester and hopefully will get another shot at an open tryout with a Major League team.”