By KEVIN HARRIS
SYRACUSE, N.Y. —
This week, Jeffersonville High School senior Drew Ellis has been working on making a lifelong dream come true.
Ellis is participating in the East Coast Professional Showcase through Saturday at Alliance Bank Stadium, the home of the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in the International League.
The showcase invites the best high school players in the eastern half of the United States. These players are selected by professional baseball scouts and compete in a series of games in front of scouts from all 30 Major League Baseball teams.
Ellis hopes the showcase will assist him in reaching his ultimate goal — playing in the major leagues.
“It’s just been a fun experience,” Ellis said in a phone interview on Thursday. “It’s been a humbling experience playing with all this talent. I hopes it helps in my dream to become a professional baseball player.”
In June, Ellis went to tryouts for the showcase in Knoxville, Tenn. He impressed the scouts in attendance and got invited to the showcase.
“I was very excited that I was going to get to go,” Ellis said.
Ellis, who is a shortstop at Jeff, has played at third base in his first two games as a member of the Cubs at the showcase. In the first game on Wednesday, he went 0-for-1 as he lined out to short. On Thursday, he was 0-for-2.
Ellis has found out quickly just how good the players he is playing alongside are. He thinks competing in the showcase will give him a good indication of what he needs to work on to make the big leagues.
“There are a lot of players from the East Coast and from Florida. There are a lot of players who play baseball year-round. It’s just crazy how good these guys are,” Ellis said. “I’ve gotten a good amount of experience. While coming up the ranks, I know I’ll have to work my butt off to compete with these guys.”
It is the second time in his life that Ellis is playing on a professional baseball field. His first experience on a pro diamond was last summer in a tournament at Louisville Slugger Field.
Ellis says the field at Alliance Bank Stadium is top-notch.
“It’s a solid A-plus field,” Ellis said. “It’s one of the best fields I’ve ever played on. Groundballs have no bad hops. It’s the best of the best.”
The showcase is using wooden bats in its games as all the players swing aluminum bats in their high school contests. But Ellis has used wooden bats before in summer ball competition so he quickly got the handle of swinging the sticks this week.
“It’s been second nature to me,” Ellis said.
Because he is in Syracuse this week, Ellis has missed the first two days of school at Jeff, which started classes on Thursday.
But Ellis said his teachers were notified in advance about his participation in the showcase. He is confident he will get caught up on his studies once he comes back to Jeff.
“My mom emailed all my teachers to let them know I was coming here,” Ellis said. “Once I get back, I don’t think I’ll have much catching up to do. I think I’ll be all right.”