"All 30 teams were there and I think one guy had his radar gun up because I was a first baseman-third baseman," Kohn said. "Like, 'What is he doing on the mound?' I think the first pitch out of my hand was 96." There were a lot more radar guns pointed after that.
That was the day Kohn realized he was a pitcher. Sure, he sneaked into the batting cages at Rookie League Orem, Utah, before being reprimanded, but he has grown comfortable with the switch over time.
"It was weird for a while, but now I just stick to hitting golf balls," Kohn said.
He debuted for the Angels in 2010, after only one full season in Class A, and was 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 24 games. Kohn still worked through command problems — he said he asked his catcher to set up in the middle for each pitch and pretend wherever he caught it was on target — but his velocity was overwhelming.
However, the next season his velocity waned and Kohn struggled with a 7.30 ERA in 14 games and he did most of his pitching in triple A before doctors suggested he undergo a surgery they said he should have gotten in high school.
He didn't pitch in 2012 but now is back showing the kind of promise he displayed during his rookie season. Coming in with runners on first and second and the score tied, 1-1, in the eighth inning of a recent game against the Detroit Tigers, Kohn struck out All-Stars Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera to end the inning.
Eight of his nine pitches were fastballs, but he's working on a slider and changeup.
And every time he starts into his windup, the mantra that has carried him through so much peers out from under the heel of his glove: Never.