Keith Bilodeau is moving up — not to mention across the country — in the world of baseball.
Coming off a superb season at the University of Maine, the righthanded pitcher from Sagamore, Mass., is taking his game to the next level. Bilodeau recently signed a professional contract with the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m really happy with the way things worked out,” Bilodeau said from his new home in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he is with the Giants’ Arizona League rookie team. “It’s my dream come true, the chance to play professional baseball.”
Bilodeau, who was selected by the Giants in the 24th round (747th overall) in the June amateur draft, agreed to contract terms last week.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder had an outstanding spring with the Black Bears, equaling a school single-season record with 10 victories (10-3) while registering a 3.04 earned run average with 83 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings.
Bilodeau kept turning heads during a stint this summer with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He was among the top pitchers on the Cape, posting a 1-1 record with a 1.48 ERA in five appearances, all starts.
He struck out 34 and walked 11 while giving up 25 hits in 30 1/3 innings.
Those efforts apparently convinced the Giants organization to offer Bilodeau a larger signing bonus.
“It helped to raise my stock, but I had to work for it,” said Bilodeau, who declined to discuss any financial details. “I definitely talked them up a little.”
Bilodeau, who stressed the opportunity to turn pro was his main concern, had rejected earlier offers from the Giants. He demonstrated his worth by pitching well in the competitive wooden-bat league.
“I think both guys really knew what they wanted, meaning they weren’t going to sign for peanuts,” UMaine coach Steve Trimper said of Bilodeau and former Bears teammate Taylor Lewis, who signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being drafted in the 10th round.
“They got to a number and the number was met, so they were able to sign,” he added.
Bilodeau conceded the Giants’ offer included a provision to pay for the remainder of his undergraduate education.
In Arizona, Bilodeau expects to be brought along slowly. He has pitched 122 innings since February, so the Giants don’t want to overwork him.
“They’re pretty much going to ‘baby’ me until extended season (in September),” Bilodeau said. “That’s when we’re going to get after it.”
The most noticeable adjustment going from Maine to Cape Cod to Scottsdale has been dealing with the weather extremes.
“It’s scorching. It’s 110 degrees,” said Bilodeau, who admitted he almost ran into a cactus while typing a text message as he walked down the street.
Bilodeau spoke fondly of his three years at UMaine, which helped prepare him to make the jump to pro ball.
“Maine’s helped me tremendously,” he said. “It’s been a great experience for me form the beginning.”