Patty Holland couldn't take it anymore.

She had spent most of Tuesday afternoon watching different names come up on the online Major League Baseball draft board. By 5 p.m., somewhere around the 420th pick, the Margate resident was exhausted and decided to take a walk on the Boardwalk.

She left her cell phone at home.

"When I came back I had 28 missed calls," She said. "I said, 'Oh my gosh, I need to call A.J.!' "

Everyone was calling to tell her that her son, A.J. Holland, the Holy Spirit High School graduate and Saint Joseph's University starting pitcher, was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 amateur baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves with the 506th overall pick.

"He has just loved the game so much and this has always been a dream of his," Patty Holland said.

A.J. Holland, a right-hander, is playing summer-league ball for the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaskan Baseball League. He was eating dinner with his host family when he found out he had been drafted.

"It was kind of surreal to be honest," he said. "In a split second it was like all the hard work that I've put in, and the people that have dedicated time toward training me and getting me prepared came to realization right there."

Holland said he is going to take his time to weigh his options. He plans on talking to his parents and former coaches such as John Monell - who hosts summer workouts that Holland attends in Margate each summer - to decide his next move.

But the thrill of being drafted is not escaping him.

"I'm just thankful to be given this opportunity," Holland said. "It's been a goal I've been aspiring to my entire life. It's a pretty exciting experience."

Holy Spirit's Keith Gorman, who coached Holland in high school, said that he exchanged texts with him when he heard the news.

"I'm really happy for him," Gorman said. "This couldn't have happened to a better kid. I really think he's going to be a good professional at some point."

Saint Joseph's coach Fritz Hamburg said he knew Holland would be drafted.

"With as much interest as he had throughout the year, I don't think it was surprising that he was drafted," Hamburg said. "The question was really what round he would go."

Holland (2-8, 5.04 ERA), a junior at Saint Joseph's, was second on the team in strikeouts during the 2011 season with 50 in 13 starts.

Both coaches spoke about Holland's work ethic and his desire to always improve.

"He's completely transformed his body since his freshman year in high school until now," Gorman said. "He's a really fearless competitor, and with his body size, he's an intimidating guy on the mound."

Holland is listed at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds on the Saint Joseph's website.

"He's a very hard worker," Hamburg said. "He's very conscientious about what he does, and a very coachable guy. He got his secondary stuff working and his last two outings were the best of his career. He threw his offspeed stuff for strikes consistently and he recognizes that's what you have to do to pitch at the highest level."

The highest level being a professional ball player, where Holland would be getting paid to play the game he loves. Gorman said he believes that goal is attainable for Holland.

"I find it hard to believe he won't get a chance at some point," Gorman said. "He's got the size, the work ethic, the aggressiveness. All those intangibles. It's up to him, but I think he'll get a shot at some point, and we're all looking forward to seeing what happens."

Contact Jeff Sporer:

609-272-7210