Rounding the Bases with Branden Kline
Freshman pitcher Branden Kline entered Virginia as one of the Cavaliers’ top recruits in recent years. A sixth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox last year, he opted to bypass professional baseball and pursue his college degree. With the majority of the 2009 team back for this season, Kline was afforded the opportunity of coming along slowly as he adjusted to the college game. He has some of the best tools on the team and is just starting to tap into that potential. That was never more evident than Tuesday night when he held the potent Coastal Carolina offense to one earned run over five innings in the Cavaliers’ 6-3 win. He is the focus of Rounding the Bases this week.
Q: Talk about the transition to the college game.
Kline: Coming out of high school the competition is definitely better, and I’m just happy to get some innings. I’m happy that the coach is putting me out there and the guys on the team will pick me up if I don’t have a good inning, and I try and do the same for everyone else.
Q: Talk about your first trip on the road to East Carolina and playing in front of 5,000 fans.
Kline: ECU was interesting. It was my very first college appearance and the fans talked a little bit of smack, but once I got in those first two innings I was just trying to throw everything as hard as I possibly could, which really isn’t a good thing. The first two innings it worked, and then the third inning I got tired and started throwing balls. But that atmosphere was a good way to start my career, where I wasn’t very comfortable and there was a lot of noise and not knowing what I could do. Coming out of there I felt pretty good. It was a little bit of a rough start at the end, but I still felt good.
Q: What was the biggest crowd you faced in high school?
Kline: Sometimes it would be 10-15 people at my game, or sometimes it would be 30. There were never more than 60 or 70 people at my high school games. Probably the largest was at the end of the year at the all-star game there were a couple hundred. Coming out of the bullpen at that game if you even bounced a ball they’d have certain things that they’d say to you. And down in the bullpen they would pick you apart.
Q: So what do you say to yourself when you’re down in the bullpen? Do you listen to what they say?
Kline: Honestly I use it as motivation. There are some things that are just idiotic but there are other things that can motivate you. I always feel the best way to make someone be quiet is to prove them wrong, so when someone is telling me I can’t do something I just go out there and do the best I can and hopefully it’s good enough to make them stop talking.
Q: How did you decide to come to UVa?
Kline: I always wanted to come to college. My junior year I promised the coaches that I would come here no matter what. My junior year I wasn’t highly scouted, but I had a really good senior year and my velocity started to rise a little, and scouts just saw what I could do. The decision wasn’t very hard. I told my parents I was going to go to school regardless, and luckily I was able to get drafted so high. The real key point of me coming here was just talking to my parents and also I looked at the Danny (Hultzen) situation from the year prior to that and just did the exact same thing he did.
Q: Are you leaning toward any particular major?
Kline: Right now I’m taking biology and I really like that, so I may major in biology or maybe go into sports medicine.
Q: What do you like about bio?
Kline: I really like being hands-on. I’ve always been a hands-on type of person. It is something different. Coming out of high school I loved math, but here its boring and things like sociology and anthropology put me to sleep, and the one thing I find interesting is biology. It is one of the hardest majors here, so I’ll just have to work a lot.
Q: What have you thought of school so far?
Kline: It’s been interesting. The first semester of your first year is always about adapting, and most people adapt after that, but seeing as how we’re a spring sport, I never realized how much time we spent at the ball field in-season. A big thing I had to work on was time management. In the fall we would go to practice and straight to JPJ to do some academics work, and I would know that I’d be able to do that and have the weekends to catch up, but now that we’re in season we’re always here, so any free time I have to catch up on school work I have to use it.
Q: How much did taking summer classes last year help in your transition?
Kline: I was able to take two classes and it helped a lot. It introduced me to what college was going to be like, being on your own and meeting new people, and from the academic side I got to see what the school is really about. I took a philosophy class, which was interesting to say the least. I knew nothing about philosophy and thought it would be a piece of cake, but I had to study and write two papers that were six pages plus. Now six pages is a short paper. Being able to be here in the summer really set me up well for my career here.
Food: A tie between bbq ribs and cheeseburger bake. It’s something my mom makes. Bisquick on the bottom with cheese, veggies, and meat, and more cheese on top, and put it in the oven.
Spot on Grounds: The quad in old dorms.
Baseball memory: Picking up my first win against JMU.
Music: Rap or Hip-hop
Movie: The Rookie
Sports teams: In baseball it’s the St. Louis Cardinals, in football it’s the Baltimore Ravens.