Chandler Shepherd experienced a life-changing moment on Monday.
The Baltimore Orioles promoted the Lawrence County and University of Kentucky product from Triple-A Norfolk to the Major League club.
It’s unknown what role he’ll play, but he was set to join the O’s in San Diego on Monday night. They take on the Padres again tonight in California. Tom Eshelman is tonight’s probable starter, according to the Orioles website. Shepherd has been both a starter and reliever throughout his minor league career.
Shepherd, 26, was drafted out of UK in 2014. He spent five-plus seasons in the Boston Red Sox organization before landing in the Baltimore system this season. He appeared in nine games in Norfolk — seven of those outings were starts. He went 0-4 with a 7.15 earned run average, but he had 43 strikeouts in 39 innings with the Triple-A team.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander is the first northeastern Kentucky baseball player since Brandon Webb (Ashland) received the call to “The Show” in 2003. Webb ended up winning a Cy Young Award and was a three-time All-Star.
Shepherd is just the 15th player from northeastern Kentucky to earn a promotion to the majors. He is the second from Louisa. Cliff Fannin was the first. He went 34-51 in eight seasons (1945-52) with the St. Louis Browns. The left-handed hurler tallied 10 wins in 1948.
“We’ve been waiting 66 years for somebody else to make it, and Chandler finally knocked that door down,” said Randy Keeton, Shepherd’s coach at Lawrence County from his seventh-grade to freshman seasons. “I’m excited for him, thrilled.”
Keeton said he keeps up with Shepherd’s stat-lines and communicates with some of his family members from time to time.
Travis Feltner, the current Bulldogs coach and Shepherd’s skipper throughout his last three high school seasons, was giddy about the news. And, according to Feltner, so was Shepherd.
“He’s pretty jacked up,” Feltner said.
Feltner found out from former Dawg Lewis Michael, a pharmacist in Louisa. Michael texted Feltner, Feltner texted Shepherd and Shepherd promptly texted back to confirm what Feltner had heard.
“It’s a big deal for our community,” Feltner said. “Every one of us dreams of being a big league ball player at some point. I had Chandler as an elementary school PE teacher. I tell his mother every time I see her, we were the ones that were blessed and fortunate that he came through here.”
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