By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Cam Kneeland’s dream of playing professional baseball isn’t ending any time soon.
The Triton Regional High alumnus signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles Friday, giving the big-league club the rights to his services for at least the 2014 season.
“They called me on Tuesday and told me to come down Friday and get on the field,” Kneeland said. “I asked if I would be by myself. They said, ‘Yes.’ I couldn’t hit on the field because it was too wet, but six guys watched me hit in a cage, and they offered me a contract.”
Last summer, Kneeland was named Can Am League Rookie of the Year after batting .306 for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles. He ranked in the top three in the league in doubles (29), RBI (62) and base-hits (114).
The 2008 Triton High graduate was the Daily News Player of the Year during his senior baseball season at Triton in 2008. Kneeland put up impressive numbers over a four-year career at UMass Lowell. A four-year .325 hitter, the infielder is among the River Hawks’ career leaders with 189 hits, 44 doubles and 144 RBIs.
Kneeland gave a few minutes to the Daily News after he inked the deal with the Orioles.
You must have been nervous taking batting practice in front of six scouts for your professional future. What was that like?
“It was definitely nerve-wracking. They’re staring at you. You want to do well for them.”
Who was watching you — the general manager?
“No, I never saw (Orioles general manager) Dan Duquette. The head scout for the draft was there. The guy who called me was there. They all work in offices inside the park.”
So, what does this mean?
“They definitely have my rights. I’m pretty sure they’ll put me on a minor league team at spring training. They just told me to stay healthy and get ready to go.”
What will you do to get ready for spring training?
“I started training at Cressey (Performance Elite Development Program) in Hudson. They’ll give me a workout plan. I just want to work out and get stronger.”
Were you starting to think this day might never come?
“I was getting frustrated, obviously. I’m happy to have a shot now. If nothing worked out, I was going to go back to Canada (in the Can Am League). I didn’t want to play Independent baseball until I was 28. I’m finally happy to get a shot.”
Will you be buying your parents a house with your signing bonus?
“(Laughing) No, not quite.”