845 alumni update: Valley Central grad, Cleveland Indians draft pick James Karinchak

When a baseball coach compares one of today’s pitchers to legendary Nolan Ryan, you take notes.

Bryant coach Steve Owens said James Karinchak’s post-game practice reminded him a lot of Hall of Famer.

After starts, Karinchak would lift and run that night. When Bryant’s bus would pull in at 2 a.m. from a long-road trip, Karinchak would head to the field house for more work.

“He’s extremely committed,” Owens said. “He never takes a day off…He’s a special kid. He’s a little quirky and a little hard to get to know at times. People that are not around him every day may not understand him but we really cherish what he brings to the table, how he acts, how he carries himself and most importantly how he competes every day.”

Karinchak’s next pitch will be thrown in the Cleveland Indians organization. Karinchak, a junior right-handed pitcher, became the first Valley Central graduate to be drafted since Jason Motte was picked by the Cardinals in 2003. Cleveland selected Karinchak in the ninth round with the 282nd overall pick Tuesday.

“Everyone projects him as a reliever at the next level,” Owens said. “I’m not sure about that. It doesn’t matter because the kid is going to go out there and compete his tail off no matter what role they put him in…He’s a tenacious competitor. He makes no excuses. He holds himself to high standard and he’s ready. He’s ready to move on and he’s very excited about the opportunity that’s in front of him.”

Karinchak entered Bryant as a 175-pound freshman with an 85-mile-per-hour fastball. He’s leaving Bryant at 230 pounds with a fastball, clocked as high as 95. Karinchak finished his three-year career with a 26-11 record and recorded nine games of 10 or more strikeouts. He missed three weeks in March with an elbow injury that may have hurt his stock in the draft.

“If he didn’t get banged up a little bit this year, he could have been taken way higher, maybe second or third round,” Owens said. “Who knows. But he’s got an opportunity to be a pro player right now and he’s going to run with it and I think he’s going to do a super job.”

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    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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