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Owen Paino: Poughkeepsie’s prestigious MLB draft prospect
(Credit: Jeff Miller/Correspondent/USA TODAY Sports)

Owen Paino: Poughkeepsie’s prestigious MLB draft prospect

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (BVM) – College baseball recruiting happens fast for most prospects and that was the case for New York standout Owen Paino.

The shortstop was unsure what his future in the game looked like until he put together a stellar tournament appearance as a 14-year-old. Paino and his family drove all the way down to Atlanta where he was one of the brightest stars in the area for the weekend.

It did not go unnoticed.

The 14-and-a-half-hour drive back up to Poughkeepsie, New York, was a lot more eventful than the ride down. Paino had not had many conversations with colleges before then, but he talked with eight different schools during that car ride.

“We were just driving through the middle of nowhere in West Virginia. It was crazy,” Paino said. “I definitely cherished every single moment, because I realized the opportunity that was in front of me.”

Now a few years later, Paino has become a nationally well-known recruit at Ketcham High School. He is viewed as one of the top high school baseball seniors across the country and he could be selected early in this year’s MLB draft.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound slugger has five-tool potential at the most premium position in the sport, a skillset that has made him coveted by both MLB scouts and college baseball programs.

Regardless of how things shake out in July, Paino has a great option in playing at Ole Miss, which he has been committed to since 2020. In Oxford, there is a tight-knit coaching staff and culture that Paino would love to be involved with.

“Every school I talked to made a great relationship with me, but there was something about the Ole Miss coaches that hit different,” Paino said. “They made it known since the first call I talked to them that that is the number one thing they prioritize when recruiting. Realizing that they take care of their players in more than just baseball made it a no-brainer for me.”

Paino has plenty of eyes on him due to his SEC commitment and any type of draft talk, but the way he deals with it is by not thinking about it and just living in the moment.

“I just go out there and play baseball like I do every single day and just have fun during my senior year because this is my last year playing with my best friends,” Paino said. “That’s been my main focus and that keeps the pressure away from what I have in front of me.”

Paino’s best friends are also pretty talented as Ketcham has seven college baseball commits on its roster, creating an environment for everyone to thrive.

“It’s always a competitive practice,” Paino said. “Those guys want to see the best version of myself every day and I want to see the best version of them too. We constantly hold each other to the highest standard knowing the potential that each of us have.”

It is no surprise that it won a state title last season with all of that talent, but the way they did it was unpredictable. Ketcham was no-hit by Commack High School but still pulled out a 2-1 victory.

The bats may not have been clicking that day, but good baserunning and the overall grit that they showed was enough to get the win.

“It’s a memory that I will have for the rest of my life,” Paino said. “Our focus level was on a different chart. We got the job done even with no hits.”

Ketcham is once again in the hunt for another state championship this season, and while Paino has individual goals, they all come second to the chance of going back-to-back.

“As long as we have another state championship, that is all I could ask for,” Paino said. “Besides that, I just want to keep becoming a better baseball player throughout practice and get ready for whatever the next step may be.”

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