ANDOVER — After a lifetime of dreaming, John Farrell’s first professional start could have been a bit less painful.
After all, being hit in the leg with a comebacker to the mound wasn’t exactly how he imagined his professional baseball career kicking off.
But a nasty bruise wasn’t about to ruin the former Andover High star’s spirits as he began the journey that he hopes will one day see him pitching in the major leagues.
“I know it’s cliché, but it really is a dream come true,” said the former William & Mary ace. “I have always wanted the chance to play baseball for a living. When I got that call, I was overwhelmed with joy.”
After being selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 21st round of the draft two weeks ago, Farrell opened his pro career on Wednesday with 1 2/3 hitless innings as a starter for the single-A Hudson Valley Renegades.
“I’ve imagined this since I can remember and I can’t believe I am really pitching for the Rays,” he said. “Getting to pitch in front of a decent crowd, and I love the challenge in every area of my life, not just baseball.”
Farrell became the highest pick ever to play at Andover High, and the first former Golden Warrior to be selected since current Andover assistant Kevin Shepard was taken in the 30th round in 2004 out of Boston College.
Andover resident Mike Yastrzemski was drafted in the 14th round by Baltimore, but he played at St. John’s Prep, and current Major Leaguer Ryan Hanigan was not even drafted.
“I had watched most of the draft, but I shut it off after about the 20th round,” said the former Andover Legion star. “A scout from Tampa Bay (Lou Wieben) called me. He said, ‘Congratulations.’ I asked ‘For what?’ He said, ‘Because we just selected you in the 21st round of the draft.’”