“I just got to keep doing what I'm doing now, at some point I think I'll get an opportunity.”
Reno Aces’ third baseman Drew Ellis, is having his best year-to-date. The former University of Louisville standout, is batting .290 with 20 doubles, a triple, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs for the Aces (42-26), who entered Saturday night in first place in the West Division of the Triple-A West.
Ellis adds he hasn’t changed anything in particular to help his game, instead has remained present, shifting his attention to what he can control.
“I'm not really focused on when I'm going to go up,” Ellis said. “I'm focused on what I need to do now and down here in Reno to help self-esteem and to help this thing grow and get better and learn from each game. Obviously, the goal is to debut and to be a big league baseball player and to stay in the major leagues. But right now, I think I got to be where my feet are. And we're just going to take it one day at a time and go from there.”
Ellis grew up as a multi-sport athlete, but always knew baseball was in his DNA.
“High school I wanted to play football. I played basketball too, but I just kind of figured that baseball was the one that I was pretty good at,” Ellis said. “And I felt like I wanted to stay close to home and play baseball. I just I was good at it. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed traveling to tournaments and just being around baseball guys. Coming from a baseball background, I just kind of figured baseball would always be the sport for me.”
Drew’s father, Derek, also played college ball starting at Vincennes University before transferring to Indiana State where he was the starting shortstop for the Sycamores. Derek now is in his ninth season as Head Coach of Jeffersonville High School and runs Ellis Baseball Academy.
“He's been my coach, for I don't know how long,” Ellis said. “He coached me in the Little League World Series and also all the way up through high school. He's still the high school coach now. He's always been in my corner. He's always had tips and advice. And sometimes I kind of don't listen to him, but I should. He's always been great and my mom. They've always been supportive and very helpful with everything that I've tried to accomplish and I can't thank them enough for it.”
“Whether I do well or I play bad, I just reach out to him, and he’ll say, ‘Hey, hang in there and keep going,’ or nice game or whatever. And we usually talk everyday just about what's going on. It's nice to be able to have somebody in my corner that I can get stuff off my chest when I need to vent or just talk when I just need to talk. It's super beneficial to have both my parents. That really helped me out.’
In Drew’s early years, the third baseman had the opportunity to play in the 2008 Little League World Series, fast forward to his collegiate career, where his team had the opportunity to take part in the College World Series tournament.
“Super cool experience to be able to to say I played in the Little League World Series and the College World Series,” Ellis said. “Hopefully one day I'll be able to get to say I played in the Major League World Series, too. It’s like being treated like a celebrity at 12 when you're in the Little League World Series was a surreal experience. It's kind of overwhelming a little bit. And to kind of do the same thing, go through the same thing at the University of Louisville, it's what you play for, to play in front of a ton of fans and just have that let your heart beat a little faster and your nerves kind of get actually a little bit. So it's definitely a super cool experience to be able to play in both of those.”
During Ellis’ first year with the Cardinals he was the backup third baseman before getting a starting position his sophomore year. Ellis explains that having that experience in college has helped him further his skill set. Pushing him to strive to want to always get better.
“I think for me I kind of had that same feeling and same motivation, not playing in 2020. It felt like my freshman year all over again, just being left in the dark on some things and obviously not getting the opportunity to play the game that I played and love for so long,” Ellis said. “It hit me a little bit. But I also realized that I can either look at it one or two ways like I can pout about it and say,’ Oh, man, I lost a year like I didn't get to play this year, like, I'm going to get worse,’ or I can take it as, 'Okay, well, this is a full year to kind of know my body, know my swing. I know what I need to do mentally to prepare for this upcoming year.’ And that's kind of the route I took. To me, it was a blessing in disguise, like I didn't get to play, but I got a lot stronger, I got a lot mentally tougher, I'm able to do things now that I wasn't able to do in my team. And so, like I said, it's super beneficial. I know is kind of crazy year, but for me, it really helped me grow as a person and as a player.”
In the 2017 MLB Draft, Ellis was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round, with the 44th overall selection. Ellis spent the 2017 season with the Hillsboro Hops of the Class-A-Short Season Northwest League where he posted .227 batting average with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. In 2018, Ellis spent the season with the Visalia Rawhide. In 120 games he slashed .246/.331/.429 with 15 home runs and 71 RBIs. In 2019 Ellis was moved up to the Jackson Generals where he hit .234/.344/.406 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs in 118 games.
As Ellis continues to progress his game in hopes to make it to the Majors, he’s zoned in on remaining present.
“I think for me, it's just taking it one day at a time, not focusing on the past and what happens in the past or looking forward to the future,” Ellis said. “Giannis had a really good press conference the other day about his ego and his pride and staying in the moment and being humble and having that humility. And I think that's been the biggest thing for me is not worrying about what's happened in the past, not worrying about, ‘Oh, well, I hit .230 AA and I hit .240 in high A and what if I do that again this year?’ It's really not about that. It's about taking it one day at a time and focusing on what I can control today and worrying about that and doing that to the best of my ability and maximizing my efforts to be successful. And then when it's over with, it's over with and move on. And you go to the next day. It's really easy to look forward to the future and say, ‘Maybe if they do this, I'll go to the big leagues or this happens,’ but at the same time, if I focus on that, I'm not going to be the best I can be today.”
So what's the third baseman's favorite part about the Biggest Little City?
"I've played some really good golf courses. one good course, Somersett, awesome course to play golf there. Obviously Tahoe and the Lake and just the beautiful sights. It's a really beautiful city and I'm super grateful to be able to be here and play at Greater Nevada Field with the fans who are awesome. I really enjoy Reno, it's special. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here."