By Erik Elken
CORVALLIS, Ore. — ”I know exactly where i was on August 15th. I was on the phone with his dad,” said Oregon State Head Coach Pat Casey.
August 15th, 2011 – the Major League Baseball draft signing deadline. For Jace Fry, a highly touted pitcher from Beaverton’s Southridge High, it was decision day.
He was picked in the 9th round of the MLB Draft, so he could either sign a professional contract with the Oakland Athletics or head to Corvallis, and honor his commitment to play collegiately for Oregon State.
“It really had just come down to the number that [my family and I] thought I was worth,” said Fry. ”And then, once [the A's] didn’t come up with that amount of money, I was still excited to come [to Corvallis].”
“I had had some discussion with the scout that drafted him, and he had given us a phone call and said, ‘He’s yours. Good luck. We’ll be back in a few years definitely trying to get him again’,” said Oregon State pitching coach Nate Yeskie.
And with that, Fry became a Beaver. But, a little more than a month prior to the season, the freshman faced a setback.
“It finally ruptured and herniated out and was bringing the majority of the pain,” said Fry.
So Fry had back surgery, which inevitably put a delay on his collegiate debut, but not on his preparation.
“Through that time he did something that a lot of freshman didn’t, he paid attention,” said Yeskie. “He really studied hitters. He watched guys go about their work and he learned the process of how things are going because he kept himself included as much as he possibly could.”
That work paid off. Through 11 starts, Fry has a 5-3 record with a team leading 2.47 ERA and three complete games.
Through all his success, Fry carries a few superstitions as well. Unlike most pitchers, he steps on, not over, the base lines.
“It’s a little reverse phsycology right there. [Others] jump over the line because I feel like they’re trying to jump over that line to get by. I kinda have the mentality that I step on the line – I’m gonna get by,” said Fry.
And stashed away in his hat as constant reminders are fortunes. One reads, ’you will obtain your goal, if you maintain your course’.
If he maintains the course he’s on, he may just become one of the best.
“I can tell you I put him up with anybody,” said Casey.
“It’s easy to see that he’s got a chance to be special, and certainly we just want to be there to be a part of it,” said Yeskie.