As a small kid, Devin Lohman wanted to be a professional athlete. His choice of sport was basketball.
“When he realized he wasn’t going to be 7-feet tall and that he was good in baseball, he switched his dream,” said his mother Laurie Ziegler, an English teacher at Santa Maria High.
So when Lohman was about 9 years old, his focus shifted to baseball. It proved to be a good decision.
Early Tuesday morning, Lohman — a graduate of Righetti High in 2007 — was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
As the 94th overall pick, Lohman became the highest drafted local player in over 10 years.
“This is why you play all those times for when you are a kid,” said a happy Lohman. “You always dream of going pro and I just thank God that he blessed me with so many talents and abilities to go out there with a strong work ethic and play every day — I’m very fortunate.”
Lohman and his family celebrated at his father David’s home in Pismo Beach when his name was called. He will now work on signing his contract and getting to work for one of the oldest professional ball clubs in baseball.
“My advisor was texting me, ‘Heads up, you may be a Red in the next couple picks,’” Lohman explained. “When I read that I said, ‘man if he’s wrong I’m gonna be mad,’ because he got my hopes up.
“So sure enough, they said my name and everyone was screaming. It was so loud, we couldn’t hear what they were saying about me.”
Lohman was aware that Cincinnati had interest, as did several other teams.
“They have been talking to me from the day before the draft, last night and this morning,” he said. “They were in the mix and wanted me pretty high.
“They liked the way I played and the style of baseball I played. They said I was talented and I’d fit in nicely.”
Lohman just completed his junior year at Long Beach State University, where as the starting shortstop, he led the team in batting with a .404 batting average, becoming just the ninth player in Long Beach history to finish a season batting over .400.
In 40 games, Lohman had 24 runs batted in, scored 31 runs and hit 17 doubles.
Each year, Lohman has shown steady improvement since coming to Long Beach after a terrific three-year varsity career at Righetti.
He learned a lot playing for the Long Beach coaching staff, especially the mentality of the game.
“Knowing that there is always so much to learn,” Lohman explained. “Once you’ve learned it all, there’s so much more to learn after that. I grew in every aspect of my game at Long Beach.
“One of the reasons scouts like to draft guys from Long Beach is because of how prepared they are for the next level.”
And he also credits his two summers of playing in the wood bat Cape Cod League in preparing him for pro ball.
“I learned how to play games every day,” Lohman said. “In college, you have three or four games a week and there I played every single day for two or three weeks in a row.
“It helps you mentally. If you have a bad game, you have to shake it off, you’ll be playing again in 10 hours. It teaches you how to manage your time and work ethic.”
In high school, Lohman was all-league three times and was twice the team most valuable player as the Warriors won two league titles.
And he has always competitive, even as a young player.
“He was playing T-ball one time at shortstop,” said David Lohman, a chiropractor in Santa Maria. “His coach yelled to him, ‘don’t let that runner get to third,’ and sure enough, just like in a movie, the runner started to go to third and Devin tackled him.
“So he always had that desire to win.”
Lohman always had the desire and, more importantly, the commitment.
“He worked very hard,” Dr. Lohman continued. “You would go out and see people practicing football during football season, people practicing soccer during soccer season.
“And then you would look over to the baseball diamond and there was Devin by himself practicing base running, grounders, batting — he was practicing all year long.”
It has been a long process for Devin Lohman and his family and they are all excited at what the future holds.
“I really thank my parents and my whole family for the support they have given me,” Lohman said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster and they’ve been with me every step.”
Devin’s dream has also been that of his family’s.
“We’ve always been proud of him,” David Lohman said, “but we’re really happy for him today."