He might have left for Arizona Friday night, but the Mid-American Championship 2019 Pitcher of the Year has yet another honor waiting for him in his coach’s office.
Eight of Ball State’s first rounders have a spot on Ball State Baseball Coach Rich Maloney’s office wall, six of whom he coached himself. In the fall, Drey Jameson will earn his spot on the wall.
“I actually had one reserved for you,” Maloney said to Jameson at a press conference Friday in Worthen Arena where he signed his transfer to the Arizona Diamondbacks. “It’s something he’ll always have.”
Jameson said that was something the coach told him when he visited Ball State.
“‘You could be one of those guys,’” he said the coach told him. “At the time I was like, ‘Yea, maybe’ — not really thinking about that at that time, but now I’m looking back at that time he said that to me … and that’s definitely an honor.”
Maloney said it was hard to be a first rounder, and that Jameson was now part of “an elite group.”
“Here at Ball State we’ve been so fortunate to have the privilege of coaching so many and Drey ranks there with the best of them,” the coach said. “It actually sets yourself apart in life, because that’s how rare it is.”
Maloney said while they both always hoped he would make it, he was concerned Major League Baseball wouldn’t disallow Jameson because of his size.
“But the size of the fight in Drey is so extraordinary that thankfully they did the right thing because from a talent standpoint, he belonged in the first round … without question,” Maloney said.
The way Jameson carried himself throughout his time with us was something the coach said was “extra special.”
“His gift is far more than what he does as far as throwing the ball hard,” he said. “His real gift is the man that he is and the competitive fire that he has.”
Summarizing Jameson’s accomplishments and contribution during his time at Ball State, including breaking the all-time MAC strikeout record this season, Maloney concluded with a “congratulations son.”
“Growing up it’s always been my dream, and I’m the kind of person, when I have a goal I just keep going for that goal,” Jameson said about making it to the Diamondbacks.
He said going pro was something he always wanted to do, first getting a taste of it in high school, then believing in freshman year that he could be a prospect and after this season he said “reality kind of set in.”
“Right now, my new goal is to make it to the big leagues and I won’t stop till I get there,” he said. “And when I get there, I’ll just keep succeeding and doing what I love.”
Maloney also talked about John Baker’s 29th-round pick for the Miami Marlins, someone he said is “a fierce competitor.”
He reflected on Baker’s state championship game where he got the game winning hit and pitched 10 innings against University of Michigan’s Tommy Henry who’s the Diamondback’s second round pick.
“John beat him head to head and that’s pretty amazing,” Maloney said. “For him to go in the 29th round I thought was honestly a bit absurd, but nevertheless, he’s getting his chance and he’ll go prove it while he gets out there.”
Having two Cardinals make it to the MLB was “extra special” as a coach for Maloney.
“When you see boys you have dreams and then they realize them — it’s special,” he said.
Going into next season without the two pitchers, Maloney believes Ball State will still have a strong team to make it “right on the top.”
“Of course losing Drey and John is huge, but we also have some pitchers who are pretty high end that they have to continue to develop,” he said. “We’ve added a couple of junior college hitters. We think we have a better offensive team.”
He said he believes Kyle Nicholas will prove to be one of the top pitchers along with Michael Pachmeyer who he said was “hungry” and “can make that next jump to be a nice draft pick next year.”
He also mentioned Chase McDermon’s “pro talent” and having Ross Messina, Aaron Simpson and Chase Sebby back in the team as contributing to the Cardinals’ offense.
“Replacing guys like Drey and Baker are really hard to do. There’s no getting around that; I mean, these kids were fantastic,” Maloney said. “But I do think we have some guys in house that are capable of rising to the occasion and being great themselves, and that’ll be the challenge.”
Contact Rohith Rao with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @RaoReports.