Ford built Texas tough
The past week may have been the most eventful of Ryan Ford’s life.
Last Tuesday, Ford graduated from Plano West. Last Wednesday, Ford was selected by the Houston Astros in the Major League Baseball Draft. Last Friday, the four-year starting first baseman completed his varsity career as the Wolves lost to Klein, 4-3, in the Class 5A State Semifinals. And on Monday, Ford ensured his career on the diamond would continue by committing to Texas.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Ford said, “especially considering I grew up as a Texas fan.”
Ford has grown up throughout his varsity career and particularly this season as he came back strong following a seven-game suspension for which the parties involved still decline to discuss the specifics.
“I think Ryan came to the understanding that it isn’t a given he gets to be involved with this game,” said Kendall Clark, West head coach. “Anytime you come back from an extended absence in anything, I think that allows you to appreciate it a lot more.”
Once Ford came back, he kept his play consistent while also elevating his presence in the dugout.
“I think Ryan came back very focused,” Clark said, “and he did a great job of taking on a leadership role.”
That paid off both individually and for the Wolves as Ford was named first team all-state by The Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association and helped West reach the Class 5A State Tournament for the second time in three years.
That no doubt made the Texas scouts take notice, but it did the same for personnel at the next level as the 6-foot-3 slugger was selected in the 38th round of the draft with the 1,143rd overall pick by Houston. While Ford was flattered, he never had serious plans of signing with the Astros.
“I talked to the Astros beforehand and sort of let them know my feelings about wanting to go to college,” Ford said. “You can never stop getting better and I feel like there are definitely things I still need to work on.”
Even after being drafted, there was still some matter of debate as to which college Ford would end up at.
Ford had considered Texas Tech, San Diego, Arkansas and New Mexico along the way, but was leaning toward Texas for much of the process. That process came to an end when he was offered by Texas on Monday. Ford committed to the Longhorns that night.
“I had been talking to Texas for quite awhile,” Ford said, “and had an idea of where I really wanted to go.”
While its clear Ford wanted to sign with the Longhorns, it’s easy to see why Texas was equally intrigued.
“I’m sure Texas feels like they need more power,” Clark said. “And left-handed power hitters like Ryan can be hard to find.”
While some onlookers feel as though colleges were scared away by Ford’s suspension, Clark said it is typical for players that don’t sign early to wait and sign until after the playoffs are over. By that point, colleges have lost players to the draft and have more scholarship money available.
As he did in West’s 2008 state title run, Ford made his presence felt in the 2010 playoffs, belting a two-run homer against Region I favorite Flower Mound in the area round and drawing a plethora of walks, most of them intentional, over the rest of the postseason. That type of pressure-packed environment was nothing new to Ford as he competed in 38 playoff games during his tenure at West.
Numbers like that may put Ford at or near the top of the West baseball pantheon, but now he has to go about proving himself all over again.
“It’s really exciting,” Ford said. “I feel like this is a new challenge and a new chapter of my life.”
Plenty remains to be written in the book of Ford, but the newly-minted West alumnus hopes there is still plenty of room left for chapters on his professional career.
“It is definitely a goal of mine to get to the big leagues,” Ford said. “I am confident in my abilities, but it will come down to the fact that I have to keep working hard and not become complacent.”