Chase Hopewell was far enough away from the dugout to not be a distraction.
If he heard his phone ring, he was going to answer it.
The 2019 Badin High School graduate hovered around his Cotuit Kettleers teammates in the bullpen during a summer Cape Cod Baseball League game earlier this week in Massachusetts, and every single one of them felt the anticipation.
“I just didn’t want to cause too much of a commotion,” Hopewell said.
With his phone clutched in hand, and the Major League Baseball draft winding down, Hopewell waited intently on an expected phone call.
He just didn’t know when it was going to happen.
Until it did.
No more than 15 minutes after the final draft selection was made Tuesday, Hopewell took a call from a Clearwater, Fla., number.
His teammates knew what was about to go down.
“They all just started cheering,” said Hopewell, who will sign a contract to play for the Philadelphia Phillies organization as an undrafted free agent.
“As soon as I heard it ring, I answered it. I smiled and said, ‘I’m going to be a Philadelphia Phillie.’”
Hopewell will become the 16th player from Badin to sign professionally overall and just the fourth to sign as a free agent.
“I’ve envisioned this since I was young,” Hopewell said. “I was going to play pro ball. I’ve devoted my life for this moment.”
His effort and determination the last couple of years support that.
“I’m super proud of Chase Hopewell,” Badin baseball coach Brion Treadway said. “I think he’s a great story on betting on yourself — just working your butt off and chasing your dream.
“It’s pretty remarkable to follow,” Treadway added. “It always wasn’t easy for Chase. Going into his senior year, we really didn’t know what to expect. He was like a different person and kept working his butt off.”
Treadway will now have helped coach six former Badin baseball players who have played professionally, including Brett McKinney (Pirates, 2013), Jeffrey Smith (Diamondbacks, 2015), TJ Nichting (Orioles, 2017), Alex Holderbach (Astros, 2018) and Spencer Giesting (Diamondbacks, 2020).
“I’ve got to give Chase all the credit in the world,” the coach said. “I think he saw this vision maybe much sooner than we did.”
A STEP FORWARD
The 6-foot-4 right-hander initially came to Badin as a catcher, so the opportunities for him to hit the mound were sparse at first.
Hopewell battled through his junior season and eventually worked his way into a pitching role. Yet he only saw five innings of action.
“I was slow at developing through high school,” Hopewell admitted. “I really didn’t get to where I wanted to be in high school until senior year.”
That’s when he took a gigantic — positive — step forward, going 6-0 with a 1.98 earned run average on a Badin squad that went 27-3.
“Badin helped me work on development,” said Hopewell, who credited Rams pitching coach Chuck McKinney for a lot of the mechanics he took in. “They taught me the logistics and all the small details of the sport. They hammer it into you, and you remember everything that you learn there because it’s always repetition. It’s a grind.”
“We were just a piece. We were just a single part of his journey,” Treadway chimed in . “He worked his butt off. I think the overall thing is that he’s worked his butt off to get to this spot.
“His junior year the opportunities weren’t great, so he just kept working,” Treadway continued. “I think he had this vision in his mind, and the kid just kept getting after it. He was a stud for us his senior year.”
Hopewell continued his baseball career for the Hamilton Joes 18U team the summer after graduating from Badin. He then went on to play at the University of Findlay for two seasons, with one of those seasons getting cut short because of Covid.
Hopewell appeared in 12 games, threw a total of 43 innings and logged a 1-4 record with 46 strikeouts at Findlay.
“Not a knock on Findlay, but I just think he mentally had bigger visions,” Treadway said. “That’s sort of the exact reason why we’re successful at Badin — because we get so many kids who have goals that are so much bigger and greater.
“That describes Chase Hopewell. That’s why we’re motivated because we have kids that want to be successful at the highest level and do whatever it takes.”
‘I WAS GETTING SEEN’
Hopewell made his next move forward, which ultimately turned the heads of some Division I schools.
While playing with the Hamilton Joes during the summer of 2021, Hopewell helped the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League program win a championship.
Hopewell was named to the GLSCL All-Star team and received a Top Prospect Award.
The day after the Joes won that title, Hopewell flew out to Cotuit to join the Kettleers in the Cape Cod league, where he played the next two summers.
Things just kept rolling for him.
Hopewell helped the Joes win another GLSCL title in 2022 and received all-star and top prospect honors again.
“I think that’s when it all started to really pick up for me,” he said. “I was getting seen.”
The University of Cincinnati expressed interest, and he eventually made the transfer to Clifton prior to the 2022 baseball season.
Hopewell went on to lead the Bearcats’ pitching staff in starts (15), innings pitched (65.1), strikeouts (52) and runners picked off (4) this past season at UC. He made 15 starts on the mound with a 2-6 record and a 5.79 ERA.
He totaled 110 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched over 40 career appearances in two seasons as a Bearcat.
Hopewell said he’s grateful for the past opportunities he’s had throughout his baseball career, as well as the chance he’s getting at the professional level.
“I can’t thank enough people who have been involved with my journey — especially the coaches who have given me the opportunity to play for them,” he said. “To learn with them and teach me so many different things.
“I get to live out my dream. In the next week or two, I get to wait for another phone call to find out where I’m headed. But I’m just happy to have already gotten the phone call I’ve always wanted.”