INDIANAPOLIS – Standing tall at 6 feet four inches, Ashe Russell isn’t daunted by pressure or hype. Instead, he just lets all the chatter of the MLB draft glide by him like his 96 mph fastball.
“I don’t want to think about (the draft),” said Russell, Cathedral High School’s ace, “and let it stress me out. I will wait to think about it until May.”
Russell has avoided the noise and conversation that has him projected to go in the top half and even as high as the top five in the 2015 MLB and just does what he does best: pitch.
That conversation gained significant steam this summer after Russell pitched brilliantly for the Evoshield Canes, an elite travel team full of highly sought after prep prospects. Garnering national recognition, Russell shot up the prospect rankings and earned co-MVPitchers of a Perfect Game tournament. The Evoshield Canes dominated the tournament circuit this summer and Russell was a major part of their elite pitching staff.
Selected to pitch in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego and the Under Amour All-American Game at Wrigley Field, Russell wowed many scouts with the few innings he did pitch. Russell noted, “They were the best baseball experiences I’ve ever had and the competition was top notch.”
On the mound though, the game was the same as it always was for Russell. “I didn’t have a different mentality pitching. I just worked my changeup and slider because the hitters are used to hitting the speed of my fastball.”
One of Russell’s favorite parts of the experience was the charity work he did in San Diego as the team went into a local hospital and interacted with the patients.
With his terrific performances in the summer, Russell was definitely someone colleges wanted desperately to have, but he was committed to Notre Dame. In July, Russell decommitted from Notre Dame after hearing his academics weren’t what they were looking for.
So, one of the best prep pitchers was back on the market. Russell explored many options in the South and Southeastern part of the country, with a tradition of strong baseball programs. He narrowed down his list to South Carolina and Texas A&M, both top notch SEC programs.
After taking his official visit to Texas A&M last weekend for the Mississippi vs. Texas A&M football game, he committed there on Monday.
“The coaches walked me through how they would develop me as a pitcher and Rob Childress, their head coach, knows what he is doing,” Russell said, “And I’ve heard from other people that he’s one of the best pitching coaches in the country. “
Trust in the coaching staff was a big reason for Russell’s commitment to Texas A&M, but also the atmosphere of the college was something he really enjoyed.
Another reason was his relationship with fellow Texas A&M commit and Evoshield Canes pitcher Beau Burrows. “The weekend after decomitting from Notre Dame, Beau sent my phone number to Texas A&M’s recruiting coordinator Justin Seely and that’s how the relationship began,” said Russell. Burrows is also one of the best pitchers in the nation and he helped persuade Russell to commit to Texas A&M creating a dynamic duo of pitchers for the Aggies.
Yet, the decision of honoring his commitment to Texas A&M or joining a major league organization after getting drafted still looms large. The chatter around him might start swirling around him, but he says he won’t be affected by it.
And, he still has unfinished business in high school, a blue state championship ring that he and the Cathedral Irish so covet; that’s the only thing on his mind.
Whatever his future holds, it will include him pitching under the bright lights on the biggest stage possible, and he’s proved capable of handling that pressure so far. Believe the hype.