By STEVE KRAH
Drew Ellis has displayed baseball talent from an early age.
With father Derek Ellis as his coach, Drew was part of the Jeff/JRC team that won a Great Lakes Region championship and went to the 2008 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. His team went to make the Final Four of the 2010 Junior League World Series in Taylor, Mich.
Drew — the oldest of three Ellis boys — turned heads at Jeffersonville (Ind.) High School and in travel baseball with the local Indiana Elite and Indiana Bulls. He graduated from Jeff in 2014 after being honorable mention all-state three times in baseball and twice in basketball.
He excelled in two seasons at the University of Louisville. After redshirting in 2015, Ellis hit .309 with three home runs, six doubles and 22 runs batted in over 47 games his first collegiate season of 2016.
Then came 2017.
American Baseball Coaches Association, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, D1 Baseball and Perfect Game all named Ellis a First Team All-America. He was on the Baseball America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Second Team All-America squads along with being a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award. He was also all-Atlantic Coast Conference first team on the diamond and the ACC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a sports management major.
The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Ellis in the second round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
After hitting .227 with eight home runs, eight doubles and 23 runs batted in over 48 games for the Short Season Class-A Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops in 2017, Ellis moved up to the High-A Visalia (Calif.) Rawhide in 2018 and is hitting .267 with 10 homers, 26 doubles and 52 RBIs through 73 games.
In his last 10 games, he’s at .341 with one homer and 10 RBIs through July 4.
MLB Pipeline calls the 6-foot-3, 212-pound righty-swinging third baseman the No. 8 prospect in the D-backs organization. Three of the top seven are pitchers.
In his second minor league season, Ellis compares professional and college baseball.
“Professional baseball is a lot more on your own,” says Drew Ellis, 22. “You’re told what to do in college. In professional baseball, you’re held accountable for what you do. If you don’t do the things you need to do to get ready for each day, you’re not going to have success.
“In college, everybody does the same thing because you’re on a schedule. When you get to professional baseball, you’re on your own and you create your own destiny with that.”
To keep contributing to his team, Ellis has found a way to prepare that suits him.
“I have my own routine,” says Drew Ellis. “You have to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s all about making adjustments and sometimes you have to make adjustments on the fly.
“But it starts with your routine.”
With 52 homers and 82 doubles since his junior year of high school, many would call Ellis a power hitter.
“I guess you could say that,” says Drew Ellis. “I look at myself as a professional hitter, whether I’m going up and seeing six or seven pitches or barreling up every ball I see. I like to see myself as a really good hitter.
“I’ve stayed with my approach this year and have not strayed away from it. I recognize the pitch and put a good swing on it.”
Derek is not hesitant to agree with Drew’s employer in labeling him a power hitter.
“The Diamondbacks think he’s a power hitter and is going to hit 25 or 30 homers a year as he progresses,” says Derek Ellis. “He’s doing great. I’m not going to bet against him.”
Derek Ellis has been on the Jeffersonville High coaching staff since the 2008 season and the Red Devils head coach since 2013. He watched Drew play shortstop for four seasons at JHS and then move to Louisville, where McDonnell made him an everyday third baseman.
“What a blessing for Drew to play for a guy like that,” says Derek Ellis of McDonnell. “What you see is what you get. He’s genuine. He’s a great motivator. He’s one of the best coaches in the country.
“The U of L program is really regimented. It really helped him make the transition to pro ball.”
In December 2017, Derek opened the Ellis Baseball Academy in Jeffersonville. The training facility takes up half of an 8,000-square foot building and has three batting and one pitching tunnel. Several area travel teams have asked to use the space.
All three of Derek and Jennifer Ellis’ three sons are baseball players.
Ian Ellis (20) is a right-batting third baseman/second baseman/right-handed pitcher who finished his second year at Olney (Ill.) Community College in 2017 and transferred to Kentucky Wesleyan College.
Jack Ellis (17) is heading into his senior season at Jeffersonville and has already committed to play college baseball at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. This summer, the lefty-hitting third baseman is with the Indiana Bulls Black 17U team, which went to the Perfect Game 2018 Grads or 17U World Wood Bat Association National Championship at the LakePoint Sports Complex in Cartersville, Ga.
“Those two are instrumental in who I am,” says Derek Ellis of Poole and Blemker. “(Poole) expected you to show up and play hard and taught me a lot about game strategy.
“(Blemker) taught me how to be a man. I was a boy going into junior college and thought I knew everything.”
Drew Ellis shows the batting form that has him hitting .267 with 10 home runs, 26 doubles and 52 RBIs through 73 games for the High Class-A Visalia Rawhide. Ellis is a Jeffersonville (Ind.) High School graduate and former All-America at the University of Louisville. (Visalia Rawhide Photo)
Drew Ellis, a former Jeffersonville (Ind.) High School and University of Louisville standout, is now enjoying baseball success in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. (Visalia Rawhide Photo)