Holmes’ signing with Diamondback vindicates Rickards’ baseball coach
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
There isn’t a baseball coach in Tallahassee more proud than Brian Kelly these days.
As well he should be.
When Tra’Mayne Holmes was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, he became the second Rickards High School product to sign to play pro ball. Holmes joins Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Mallex Smith, who has almost two years of professional baseball under his belt.
The two outfielders are the only players out of Rickards to ever play professional baseball on any level. Of course, Kelly is proud of that. But more than anything else it’s proof that he has taken Rickards’ program to a place where it hasn’t been before he took over 12 seasons ago.
“Having grown up on that side of town, it was the only place I wanted to be,” said Kelly, a Rickards alum.
Rickards’ baseball seemingly was a revolving door for coaches before Kelly.
“It was always a resume builder for coaches to coach at Rickards,” he said. “It wasn’t a place they wanted to go to for a long time.”
Kelly didn’t just teach how to hit, run and steal bases. He gave his players a dose of confidence, something that Holmes attributed to getting into the pros.
“My first day of little league baseball coach told me I’m going to play in the pros,” he said. “I kept believing that.”
Holmes was drafted twice before signing with the Diamondback. The Texas Rangers called on him both previous times, first in the 19th round in 2014 and again in the 25th round last year.
He was taken by Arizona in the 11th round last month.
While he waited, Holmes played briefly at Northwest Florida junior college. He transferred to Wallace Community college in 2015 for a season and was at Faulkner University, a NAIA school in Montgomery, Ala., when he decided on the Diamondbacks.
“He really struggled with that decision,” Kelly said, explain why Holmes passed on his first two chances. “It was a tough decision for him because his family was pushing for him to go to school.”
It didn’t take long for Holmes to prove his worth for Arizona’s Class A Hillsboro Hops. Last Friday, he made two incredible diving catches to help the Hops rally to a 605 victory over Spokane.
Both catches made the Play of the Day on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The speed that Holmes showed in dashing across the outfield to make the catches is something that Kelly had seen several times.
His speed is his biggest asset, as he demonstrated with two big outs against Spokane
“He has got the tools,” Kelly said. “He has a great arm and he’s got speed. Baseball coaches like speed and I think he definitely has it.
“He has grinded his whole life. Now he has the ultimate goal in front of him. He’s got what it takes.”