By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Right-handed pitcher Ryan Etsell grew up in Philadelphia, playing his high school ball at Northeast Catholic. In fact, he was a member of the school’s last baseball team before it closed its doors in 2010. He went to junior college down in Florida and in 2013 he was drafted in the 16th round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
This season, the 22-year-old Etsell is a member of the Burlington Bees, the Class-A affiliate of the Angels playing in the Midwest League.
“We clinched the playoffs in the first-half, we finished in second place, so that was a great experience,” Etsell tells KYW Newsradio. “I’m just looking forward to the playoffs now and being back healthy and contributing to the Bees again.”
Etsell is working his way back from a blister problem and hopes to be back pitching again soon.
Prior to being sidelined, Etsell was 4-3 as a member of Burlington’s starting rotation, with a 4.21 ERA. In 66 1/3 innings pitched, he allowed 72 hits, walked just 20 and struck out 59.
He says he has already grown as a pitcher during his short time as a pro.
“Coming up, I was a two-pitch pitcher, fastball – two-seam, (and a) slider, which worked for me the majority of my career at North and then in junior college,” Etsell says. “This year, I just developed a change-up, so I’ve got the third pitch. I’ve been working with my pitching coach, we developed that. Pitch has been great since I developed that, because in pro ball your going to need more than two pitches. I lived and died off the command of my two pitches, but now I have the third, so its been really great.”
Etsell says baseball has always been a very big part of his life, making his pro career even more satisfying.
“Growing up this was always the sport that me, my brothers and my dad could bond over,” Etsell says. “We always played, my dad played. My dad got drafted (Jeff Etsell was drafted by Houston in 1979) and he always asked me and my brothers if we wanted to play pro ball. Of course, when you’re younger, it is always ,’Yes.’ He always said, ‘Just follow me and you’ll make it.’ He kind of paved the way for us.”
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