Former North Carolina Central baseball player Eric Kimber received the call that every kid dreams of.
On the other end of the phone was a scout from the Kansas City Royals, who noticed Kimber’s pitching ability and athleticism during a tryout on on June 12 in Burlington, North Carolina at the home of the Burlington Royals.
The scout liked what he saw and offered Kimber a professional contract with the Kansas City Royals.
“That was a very exciting moment,” said Kimber about the life-changing phone conversation. “I almost couldn’t maintain my composure.”
Kimber signed the contract on Monday evening at his home in Greensboro, North Carolina and will fly to Arizona on Tuesday to join the Royals rookie team.
Although Kimber spent much of his three-year NCCU career in the outfield or infield, his opportunity at the professional level will be as a pitcher. As a senior in 2015, the dynamic Eagle started 20 games at third base, 18 in left field, five at second base, two in right field, two at designated hitter and two as a pitcher. In three total pitching appearances this season, Kimber tossed just 5.0 innings.
Still, during Friday’s tryout just minutes away from his hometown, Kimber took full advantage of his 20 bullpen pitches by lighting the radar gun to between 92-94 miles per hour.
“The transition will be a challenge at first,” Kimber said about making a full-time move to the mound. “(At NCCU) I was being used where I was needed, but now I can concentrate on pitching.”
In three seasons at NCCU, Kimber accumulated 46.1 innings pitched in 19 appearances with 10 starts. Most of that work came in 2014 with 38.0 innings pitched in 14 appearances with seven starts.
“I feel like I have worked hard enough and someone saw the effort,” said Kimber, who graduated from NCCU in May with a degree in psychology.
“The road was tough,” he said about making the jump from Dudley High School to playing college baseball. “It humbled me – coming to college and having to work hard to earn a spot and keep a spot.”
Kimber understands that this opportunity would not have been possible without the help of his NCCU family.
“Big thanks to my teammates, coaches and athletics staff members at NCCU that helped me out,” he said. “I didn’t do it by myself.”
Kimber is the first NCCU student-athlete to sign with a Major League Baseball franchise in the modern era of the program (since baseball returned in 2006).
“This is a tremendous honor and opportunity for Eric,” said NCCU baseball head coach Jim Koerner. “He has been working hard towards this goal since I’ve known him and it’s been a pleasure watching him mature and improve. Eric is extremely athletic, and now that he can finally focus on just pitching he is only going to continue to improve.”