Will Kincanon is living the dream.
After getting drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 29th round of last year’s Major League Baseball Draft, the Riverside resident and Riverside-Brookfield High School alumnus bet on himself and went back to school in hopes of boosting his draft stock.
It’s safe to say his bet paid off.
Playing last year at Indiana State University, the right-handed pitcher improved his draft stock mightily – by 18 rounds to be exact – and was selected in the 11th round of the MLB Draft this past Wednesday.
The best part? He was picked by the team he grew up rooting for: the Chicago White Sox.
It’s been a long time coming for Kincanon, who graduated from RBHS in 2014 as one of the best pitchers – and athletes – in the school’s history.
The former Bulldog was a two-time all-state pitcher and was even an all-conference basketball player as a senior, when he averaged 16 points per game and led the Bulldogs to a regional title game.
In a 2013 interview with the Landmark, RBHS baseball coach Dallas Till referred to Kincanon as “the greatest baseball player ever at RB.”
It’s hard to argue with Till, as Kincanon managed a 26-6 record along with a 1.12 ERA during his time wearing blue and white.
After his graduation in 2014, Kincanon went to Triton College, where he pitched for the Trojans for two years.
In his second season at Triton, the hard-throwing right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA, led the Trojans to the Region IV Division I championship and earned a spot as an all-region hurler.
After his stellar sophomore season, Los Angeles chose Kincanon with the 881st pick in the second-to-last round of 2016’s Draft.
He had finally achieved his lifelong dream of getting drafted into the MLB.
If he signed with the Dodgers, he would have a chance to suit up for one of Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises while playing – and living – near the bright lights of Hollywood.
To the surprise of many, Kincanon declined the Dodgers’ offer. He decided to go to Indiana State instead.
“I just felt if I threw the ball to my capabilities I would be a day one pick (in 2017),” Kincanon said. “The stuff was there (while pitching at Triton), but I just didn’t command the ball at times.”
One person who stood by his decision to go back to school was Henry Gresik, Kincanon’s cousin and one of his closest friends.
“When Will decided to go to Indiana State lots of people doubted him and said it was a dumb move,” Gresik said. “I remember people talking about how he wouldn’t be drafted again. But Will knew what was best for him.”
Kincanon went 5-5 at Indiana State, where he struck out 93 batters (to 35 walks) in 79 innings pitched.
“Going to Indiana State was a great decision for me in the long run,” Kincanon said. “I learned so much about myself as a player and a person that I was not prepared for before – little things like holding runners on, thinking the game through every pitch and not letting my emotions get in the way of executing.”
Fast-forward to last Wednesday, when Kincanon received a call from the White Sox informing him they selected him with their 11th-round pick.
For the Riverside kid who spent years fantasizing about playing for his favorite team, it really was a dream come true.
“The outpouring back home from everyone around the community was unbelievable,” Kincanon said.” “I had countless numbers of texts, calls, Facebook messages, tweets, everything you can think of.”
Kincanon thanked countless people for their support, but his biggest thanks went to his parents, siblings Jack and Emily, and cousin Henry.
“It really shows how lucky I am to have all these great people around me and what a great spot I grew up in,” Kincanon said.
The Sox flew Kincanon out to their facilities in Glendale, Arizona where he officially signed with the team.
But his road to the show hasn’t ended just yet.
For now he will be playing rookie ball for the Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League.
“They’re going to give me a chance to start and if that doesn’t work out they’ll put me in the (bull)pen to let my stuff play up and hopefully move up the ranks,” Kincanon said.
“I’m just hoping I can continue to make everyone back home proud,” he added.
If Kincanon continues to learn and pitch the way he has, his MLB dream may very well become a reality.
“He has the best work ethic out of anyone I’ve ever seen,” Gresik said. “And all the people who have told him he can’t do it are only adding fuel to the fire. He’s proved his doubters wrong before – what’s one more time?”