Trey Ball is sticking with his original instincts. The New Castle baseball star finished his summer of 2012 by playing in the some of the country’s elite all-star games. As summer turned to fall, it became clear to him and his family that some of the prospects in those games would be invited to spend the first night of the MLB Draft at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J.
So Ball and his family discussed the “What if?” If he received that invitation, would he accept it? At the time, Ball thought he would prefer to remain in New Castle with his family on draft night.
More recently, Ball, who graduated from New Castle on Sunday, did receive that invitation and gave it additional thought.
He talked to some other prospects who would be attending. He again considered the possibility of hopping on a flight to the New York City area and being at the draft’s epicenter. His family members told him they would support either decision.
Ultimately, Ball decided that wasn’t for him. He will be in New Castle tonight, surrounded by his entire family, as he waits to hear which team will select him and ultimately offer him millions of dollars to sign a pro contract. His grandparents, for example, would be unable to make the trip to the studio, and he wanted to make sure he could include them in his life-changing day.
“They had been with me through everything the past four (years), actually since I was a little kid, with all the baseball,” Ball said of his relatives. “So I just decided I wanted to spend that moment with them.”
Several draft experts believe he won’t be waiting long, and that he has the potential to be drafted in the top 10. Ball served as a left-handed pitcher and outfielder at New Castle. He was recently named the Gatorade Indiana Baseball Player of the Year. He hit 10 home runs this season for the Trojans. He was 6-0 on the mound with a 0.76 ERA.
There is some debate about which position he will play at the next level, though most projections believe he’s more likely to be drafted as a pitcher than a position player. He has signed with the University of Texas, and could elect to put off pro ball for a while and join the Longhorns instead.
Little is certain for Ball at the moment. He doesn’t know which team will draft him, where it might send him, or if he will end up pursuing college baseball at Texas. He just knows that he faces an uncertain future, and he does know he will soon be leaving New Castle to continue his career on the diamond somewhere else.
“(I’m) pretty laid-back about it right now,” he said. “I’m sure when it happens, I’ll not know which direction I’m going. But right now I’m pretty laid back about it.”
Ball’s mother, Amy Morrison, has come to peace with the fact that her son will be moving away. For the last few years, she’s been able to sense that his talents would take him beyond the town of about 18,000 that has always been his home.
He’d always gravitated to baseball, and athletics had always come easily for him. Even as an infant, he walked quickly compared to other children. He was able to ride a bicycle without training wheels before most of his peers. And he demonstrated solid hand-eye coordination early, something that usually bodes well for a child interested in baseball.
As his talents began to attract more attention during sophomore year, Morrison began to realize baseball would take him somewhere. While it meant her son was potentially moving away, it was a proud feeling for her.
“I just had this feeling,” she said. “I told my husband, I said, ‘He’s not going to be here. He’s not going to be with us. He’s going to go on and do greater things.’ I just had that feeling.”
While Ball’s family includes his parents, grandparents and others who knew him from birth, the close group has expanded during his life. Ball’s parents divorced when he was young, and both of his parents remarried. He maintains a close relationship with both parents and his stepparents, and his entire family is described as close-knit. Relatives on all sides will be at his mother’s home to share in his moment tonight.
One person who has come into his family over the course of Ball’s life is Austin Cook.
Cook graduated from New Castle a year ahead of Ball and now attends Ball State. He has been a close friend of Ball’s since they were baseball teammates as young children.
As the two friends became closer as children, they decided they wanted to be family. So they pushed the idea of Ball’s father and Cook’s mother getting married, which would allow the friends to really consider themselves relatives. They took to calling themselves “MSBs,” which stood for Maybe Step Brothers.
Ball’s father and Cook’s mother did marry five years ago, allowing their sons to remove the “maybe.” And as Cook talks about the bond he shares with Ball, he leaves the “step” out as well.
Cook and Ball list swimming and playing the Call of Duty video game as two of their favorite activities to do together. That hasn’t changed as Ball has become a potential top-10 pick, and they were able to enjoy both activities together recently. Sometimes, it’s still hard for Cook to fathom that Ball really is a possible top draft prospect.
“We were on the same Little League team a couple years ago, and now he’s top 10,” Cook said. “I find myself doing that sometimes. But it all comes back to what he’s about. He’s about family.”
As Ball prepares to leave New Castle, Cook has a simple message for his brother. No matter how far apart they are, they can still play Call of Duty together online.