By STEVE KRAH
Ethan Larrison went to Arizona and became a sponge.
The right-handed pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks system recently attended fall instructional camp at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale and spent his time soaking up as much baseball knowledge as he could.
“I asked as many questions as I could and tried to get better in every aspect,” says Larrison, a 2014 Shelbyville (Ind.) High School graduate who played for four seasons at Indiana State University (2015-18) in Terre Haute and was selected in the 16th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Diamondbacks. “There were a lot of former major leaguers there. I would soak in as much as these guys could tell us and paid attention to everything that was said.
“I’m not set in any aspect of pitching at all. I decided to go in with an open mind.”
He was impressed to see big leaguer Jake Lamb there grinding away in the same place as instructional league invitees.
“He got to the facility before anybody,” says Larrison of the all-star third baseman.
Larrison was an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A all-state honorable mention selection and IHSBCA All-Star as a Shelbyville senior, playing for head coach Scott Hughes.
At ISU, Larrison appeared in 84 games (78 in relief) with an 11-13 record, 10 saves, a 4.12 earned run average, 141 strikeouts and 77 walks in 178 1/3 innings. His head coach was Mitch Hannahs and Jordan Tiegs his pitching coach.
In 2018, Larrison pitched in 25 games (all in relief) and went 3-6 with nine saves, a 3.76 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 23 walks in 55 innings for the Sycamores then got into 15 more contests (all out of the bullpen) and went 6-1 with a 3.10 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 10 walks in 20 innings for the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops of the rookie-level Northwest League.
Between his last college season and first professional campaign, it was as much baseball as Larrison had ever played in one year.
“That was the biggest challenge. In summer (collegiate) ball, you might get into five or six games,” says Larrison, who played for the Prospect League’s Bobby Segal-managed Terre Haute Rex in 2015, rested his arm in the summer of 2016 and hurled for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Hyannis Harbor Hawks in 2017. “We were playing everyday of the week for numerous weeks and getting into several games (in the minors).
Making it through that experience has him looking forward to 2019.
“I’m super excited about next year,” says Larrison, 23. “One of the hardest seasons a professional baseball player can have.
“I’ll be a lot more ready for next year. This is my group now.”
Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Larrison touched 96 mph and sat at 92 to 94 mph with his four-seam fastball near the end of the college season. Fatigue and minor injuries pulled that down to 90 to 92 with Hillsboro. His pitching repertoire also features a “circle” change-up, slider and curveball.
“I try to make it as close to 12-to-6 as possible,” says Larrison of his curve. “It’s not sweeping, but something in the middle.”
Before reporting back to Arizona for spring training in early March, Larrison will be working out and plans to begin throwing again around the middle of November. He will also be serving an internship with the Indiana State baseball program as part of his sport management/marketing major.
Larrison, who is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, says he enjoyed his time playing for Hughes at Shelbyville.
“He would push us, but he would also gave us room to develop on our own,” says Larrison, who helped the Golden Bears win over 20 games and a Hoosier Heritage Conference title in 2014. “Our team chemistry was really good. We played together since we were younger.”
Born in Beech Grove, Ind., Larrison was raised in Waldron, Ind., before moving to nearby Shelbyville as a seventh grader. He played in the Shelby County Babe Ruth League until travel baseball took him to the Indy Expos, Indiana Prospects and Midland (Ohio) Redskins.
Ethan is the youngest child of Gary and Amy Larrison. Brandon is the oldest and Caitlyn the second-born. Gary is a saleman and Amy a bank manager. Brandon works in the automotive industry and Caitlyn is on maternity leave as a teacher.
There have been plenty mentors and role models in Ethan’s life, from his father who played catch with him in the front yard and coached some of his teams to his older brother, who was a Shelbyville basketball player.
“I wanted to be as good as him when I was younger,” says Ethan. “It’s important to have quality coaches and I’ve learned a ton from everybody I’ve been with.”
That includes Hannahs and Tiegs at ISU.
“(Hannahs) was very strong on hard work and doing things when nobody’s watching,” says Larrison.
Tiegs helped Larrison and other Sycamore hurlers with a throwing routine that includes weighted balls and helps loosen and strengthen.
“It’s something he used,” says Larrison of Tiegs, who pitched for Sauk Valley Community College and the University of Charleston and with the independent Evansville (Ind.) Otters.
Ethan Larrison, a 2014 Shelbyville (Ind.) High School graduate, pitched four seasons at Indiana State University and made his professional baseball debut in 2018 in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. (Hillsboro Hops Photo)
Ethan Larrison grew up in Indiana and made his pro baseball debut in Oregon in 2018 with the Hillsboro Hops. (Hillsboro Hops Photo)
Former Shelbyville (Ind.) High School and Indiana State University reliever Ethan Larrison pitches out of the stretch for the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops in 2018. (Hillsboro Hops Photo)
Ethan Larrison pitched in 15 games for the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops and was invited to the fall instructional league by the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Hillsboro Hops Photo)
Ethan Larrison throws a pitch for the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops in 2018. He played high school baseball in Shelbyville, Ind., and college ball at Indiana State University. (Hillsboro Hops Photo)