Boxford, Mass., native inks free agent contract with National League squad
EASTON, Mass. (June 14, 2012) – Stonehill College senior lefthanded pitcher Kyle Shepard (Boxford, Mass./Masconomet) has signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs. Shepard signed with the club on Tuesday evening, seven days after the conclusion of the Major League Baseball (MLB) First Year Player Draft.
"This was certainly a goal of mine when I came to Stonehill and it feels great to accomplish it," said Shepard of signing with the Cubs organization. "I put in a lot of hard work to get to this point."
Shepard appeared in nine games for Stonehill during the 2012 season, making eight starts. The lefthander posted a 4-2 record overall, struck out a team-high 53 batters and compiled a 4.17 earned run average in 49.2 innings pitched. Shepard also held opponents to a .239 batting average, the second lowest average among starters.
"I am really excited for Kyle. I know this is a dream and a goal that he had coming in and it was something he really wanted accomplish," said Stonehill head coach Patrick Boen. "He was a terrific high school pitcher and then when he came to us he was arguably one of the best outfielders in the Northeast-10, but he set his mind to being a pitcher and playing in professional baseball and he has done that."
Shepard, who hadn't pitched since his freshman season in 2009, made the transition back to the mound this spring with help from pitching coach Nick SantaBarbara.
"Going into this season I tried to make sure I worked with Nick as much as I could in the offseason to get prepared," said Shepard. "I was trying to find my arm slot and release point, but once it all clicked I kept on improving and it showed over the course of the season."
Only with a full collegiate season under his belt, Boen believed the Cubs saw plenty of potential in the six-foot plus left-hander.
"The potential that Kyle has, considering he hasn't been a pitcher for almost four years now, was what opened up the scouts eyes," said Boen. "Once you could see Kyle getting comfortable on the mound, the scouts saw a left handed pitcher with the right length and body type and a fastball consistently hitting 89-91 after not pitching for four years. It really opened up their eyes to what he could do down the road."
Shepard joins his older brother Brenden in the professional baseball ranks after he became the first student-athlete in program history to be drafted by an MLB club when the Boston Red Sox selected Brenden in the 28th round (862nd overall) of the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft. He made ten relief appearances for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox last summer and was 1-1 with a save and 4.84 ERA in 22.1 innings with 16 strikeouts and just five walks. Brenden is currently recovering from arm surgery before resuming his professional career.
"Growing up we always played catch and we said we should try and get to the next level," said Kyle. "We have both learned a lot from each other and it is really cool that we have both been able to accomplish our goal. Maybe we will be able to play against each other someday."
Stonehill posted a 30-19 record overall this spring, including an 18-11 mark in the NE-10 and a 13-8 showing in Northeast Divisional play. The Skyhawks went 7-3 overall in their last ten regular season contests to earn their third-straight trip to the NE-10 Tournament.