BY STEVE KRAH
Avery Short had committed to play baseball at the University of Louisville.
But Short graduated from Southport (Ind.) High School and the left-handed pitcher was selected in the 12th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Indianapolis native signed his first professional contract for a reported $922,500 and went to the minors, learned a new pitch and was part of a championship team.
“Everything lined up perfectly,” says Short of his decision to turn professional. “It was hard opportunity to pass up.”
Short, who participated in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in July 2018 and competed for Team USA in the U18 Pan-American Championships in Panama in the fall of that year, was not dominant on the mound in his senior season with the Southport Cardinals. But he counts it as a valuable learning experience.
“I didn’t have the best year, but I learned how to deal with adversity,” says Short, 18 (he turns 19 on March 14, 2020). “That will help me in pro ball a lot. Nobody’s going to throw their best in every outing.”
While Short would work on all parts of his game after each mound appearance, he would focus on the areas that were not working for him.
With teammates looking up to him, he got a chance to be a leader. With an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer — Phil Webster — as his head coach, he developed a mindset of being tough and not giving up.
Short says being away from home for three weeks with Team USA taught him to be a little more independent and responsible.
“High school taught me to be a leader and hold myself accountable,” says Short. “Everybody was watching.”
Drawing on his experiences from high school, Team USA and travel ball (including with the Sean Laird-coached 17U Indiana Bulls and Team Indiana), Short made his pro debut July 26.
The lefty made six mound appearances with the Diamondbacks’ rookie-level Arizona League team where he went 0-0 with a 2.57 earn run average, seven strikeouts and no walks in seven innings.
“It was a pretty good short season,” says Short. “I was a little tired during the end (from pitching in the Arizona heat).
“It was awesome to get moved up during my first season.”
Short learned new four-seam change-up grip from AZL D-backs pitching coach and former big leaguer Rich Sauveur.
“I have a really good feel for it,” says short of a pitch that has more downward break as opposed to arm-side run.
From his three-quarter overhand arm slot, Short continued to mix the change-up in with four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a curveball and a slider while with the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops of the short-season Northwest League.
Short got into just one game and threw 17 pitches with two strikeouts and no hits or runs allowed, but soaked up knowledge from pitching coach Barry Enright (also a former major pitcher) and thoroughly enjoyed his time with a team that won the NWL championship.
“It was awesome,” says Short of Hillsboro, part of the Portland metropolitan area. “The fanbase was incredible. There were at least 3,000 to 5,000 fans at every game and they were super-engaged.
“It’s a super nice area to live in.”
Short notes that there was an adjustment going from the higher seems of a high school baseball to the lower seams of the minor league ball and that impacted his breaking pitches. He plans to work a lot on the curve and slider in the off-season.
The past three weeks, Short has been in Arizona for a strength camp. Players lift weight four days a week, plus do yoga and get speed training from some of the world-class track coaches who live in the Valley of the Sun.
Wednesdays are off days. Short and his team do team-building activities like paintball, bowling or a World Series watch party.
In January, he returns to Arizona for instructional league.
Back in central Indiana, Short will train at Indianapolis Fitness And Sports Training (IFAST) in Fishers. Eventually, he will begin throwing again to get ready for instructional league.
Avery is the son of Tom (Cathy) Short and Amanda (Scott) Bryan. His siblings are Amber, Abbey, Alec, Payton, Caroline and Lexi.
“I’m the second youngest,” says Avery. “I was able to watch them grow up. I learn from their mistakes and from the good things.”
What about college?
While he’s not sure what area he would study, Short says he would like to pursue higher education in the future.
Right now, he is seeing where baseball will take him.
Avery Short of Indianapolis played for the USA Baseball National team. (USA Baseball Image)
Avery Short, a 2019 Southport (Ind.) High School graduate, pitches for the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. (Michael Jacobs All-Star Photos)
Avery Short, a 2019 Southport (Ind.) High School graduate and USA Baseball alum, was selected in the 12th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and finished the season with the Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops. (Michael Jacobs All-Star Photos)
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