CUMBERLAND — Former Allegany College of Maryland slugger Jon Kemmer was selected by the Houston Astros with the first pick of the 21st round of the annual Major League Baseball amateur draft on June 8.
Kemmer, 6-foot-2, 215-pound left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder from Shippenville, Pa., played center field in college but the Astros have told him he will play a corner outfield position in their organization. He is currently playing in Troy, N.Y., for the Astros in the short-season New York-Penn League.
While at Allegany in 2010 and 2011 Kemmer batted .448 as a sophomore with 12 home runs and 67 RBIs, earning NJCAA Division II first-team All-America honors after hitting .445 with seven homers and 74 RBIs as a freshman.
“I couldn’t be happier for Jon,” said Allegany head coach Steve Bazarnic. “He deserved an opportunity.”
In two years, he set three career Allegany records, with 44 doubles, 141 runs batted in, and was hit by 30 pitches — 17 his sophomore season. One of those errant pitches broke Kemmer’s jaw. It didn’t, however, deter him from going about his business.
“He broke his jaw on a Friday,” said Bazarnic. “(Dr. Howard R. Strauss, DDS) put it together, and on Tuesday Jon came out and hit a grand slam.”
Kemmer finished the season with a team-high 64 hits and 61 runs, as the Trojans went 31-16. Kemmer also hit a pair of triples and a team-high 18 doubles that season.
A graduate of Clarion (Pa.) High School, Kemmer went from Allegany to Clarion University, and in 2012 was a first-team American Baseball Coaches Association NCAA Division II All-Atlantic Region selection, a second-team National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association player and a first-team All-PSAC West choice. He hit .387 with a 1.207 OPS (on-base and slugging percentages combined), with a .526 on-base percentage, the fourth best at Clarion since 1979, and a .681 slugging percentage, the sixth-best at Clarion since 1979. He led the team in runs scored (37), doubles (14) and triples (3) while ranking second in home runs with five and tying for second in RBIs with 25.
This past season, Kemmer played for NAIA Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., and hit a team-leading .366 in 45 games with 12 home runs, 13 doubles and one triple while driving in 41. He slugged .717 with an OPS of 1.183, stole six bases in seven tries, walked 23 times and was hit by a pitch seven times. He was named first-team NAIA All-American, the Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a first-team All-Conference performer.
Kemmer ranked No. 4 in NAIA Division I in slugging percentage, No. 5 in home runs per game (0.267), No. 7 in home runs, and No. 10 in total bases per game (2.311).
While in college, Kemmer also played in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and was the 2012 NYCBL Player of the Year after hitting .441 with a league-leading nine home runs and 53 RBIs.
“Jon turned down an offer from the (Atlanta) Braves to sign as a free agent,” said Bazarnic. “He wasn’t drafted. He went to Clarion and he went to Georgia to play when a lot of other kids would say ‘the heck with it.’ Then he went down there and had a fantastic year playing the outfield.
“So, yeah, he definitely deserved this shot. He was in taking swings in the batting cage when the Astros called.”
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org