Back in November 2014, Kendall Graveman was a piece that came along in a hand basket filled with Brett Lawrie, Franklin Barreto, and Sean Nolin in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for superstar Josh Donaldson. A 6’2”, 23-year-old sinkerballer with a cool last name and five major league appearances — all relief — under his belt.
Fast-forward to last season. In 2016, Graveman was the only consistent starter for the A’s, throwing a team-high 186 innings — including a complete game shutout toward the end against the White Sox. Two games into 2017 and he’s already starting hot, posting 2 W’s, 12 K’s and only giving up 3 runs over 13 innings of work. The best part? Graveman only just turned 26 in December.
The A’s were ready to start Sonny Gray for their Opening Night extravaganza, but an injury in spring training prevented him from doing so. Instead, the slot fell into the hands of Graveman. He had never gotten the opportunity in the bigs before, though he did get the chance to open for the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2013 College World Series.
While the Bulldogs ultimately lost the 2K13 CWS, Graveman was now ready to take on pro ball — after declining a contract with the Miami Marlins in 2012 to stay in the school he loved so much. He was selected in the 8th round by the Toronto Blue Jays and sent off to pitch for the Lansing Lugnuts.
Graveman had a 3-year-plan. He was going to play his hardest, see where he was at, and then decide from there if he wanted to keep going with baseball or utilize his mechanical engineering degree. He also kept a list of goals to keep him motivated. One goal was to be in AA at the end of 2014. Graveman made it to the majors instead.
He can also draw lions, which is very important.
Like many athletes, Graveman cites his dad as the person who most influenced his career and his life. He was able to honor his father’s hard work and care by publicly presenting him with the 2017 Coaching Corps Game Changer award.
Of the handful of players traded to the A’s from the Jays, Graveman and Barreto are the only two remaining in the organization, and Graveman the only one in the majors. Who knows what Graveman’s next chapter will be, but one thing is for sure, his last name is really freaking cool.