Joe Ross is a big man with a big future lying ahead of him. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 draft and has slowly started to learn down to pitch. Joe is entering his 2nd full season as a starting pitcher and his first season with the Lake Elsinore Storm. We caught up with Joe and wanted to ask him a few questions about his career so far as well as his big brother Tyson Ross. Hope you enjoy hearing from Joe.
Wayne: What are some of your earliest memories of baseball, either watching it or playing it yourself?
Joe: Playing, I’d have to say just running around our local Babe Ruth League field where my brother, actually my sister also played for a couple of years. And they were busy playing. I think I might have been four or five years old. And just trying to play catch anyone that would play catch with me. But I’d say watching goes definitely back before that. But a big moment I remember is we’re at an Oakland ayes game. And my brother actually caught a foul ball about as close to my face as you can catch one.
Wayne: Oh, geez.
Joe: I want to say he was nine or ten, so I would have been four. Yeah, so I was small, yeah.
Wayne: So, you basically owe your life right now to the fact that…
Joe: [Chuckles] Yeah, career, everything, yeah.
Rebecca: Well, it makes you guys smile, right?
Joe: Yeah. I say thank you every once in a while.
Wayne: So, who is your favorite Major League player? Outside of Tyson, if he’s reading this. Who’s your favorite all-time Major League player? Or maybe some pitchers you really admire that you look up to and watch?
Joe: I’d have to say player, first of all, I grew up playing infield mostly until midway through high school.
Joe: I played shortstop. And so, I was a really big Jose Reyes fan.
Wayne: I love Jose Reyes.
Joe: Yeah. He’s exciting to watch, really good. So, that’s not usually anyone’s guess for my favorite player so far. But pitchers, I would have to say King Felix. His electric stuff, he’s always fun to watch. I love to watch my brother, not only family-wise, but just watching him pitch and do what he does on the mound. It’s awesome. Just great pitching of the game, you can learn a lot from just watching on TV every day.
Wayne: When did it occur to you that you were going to finally just become a pitcher? Was there a moment playing in high school where it’s like, “You know what? I think this is where God has put me. I’m meant to be on this mound.”
Joe: Oh, I pitched since I was younger, like 10, 11, 12 age. And then I think it really hit me that first summer where summer baseball, I pitched more than I played the infield or played outfield, something like that. And I was like, “Okay. Maybe I’ll be a pitcher.” And then I grew size-wise. I got a lot taller during high school and a little bit bigger. And then that’s when I started throwing hard and I realized I’ll probably end up on the mound as my career in baseball.
Wayne: Now, up to this point in your career, what’s your proudest moment? What do you look back on and just you’re really proud of as an accomplishment, either with the team or maybe just on your own?
Joe: I would say my first year in 2012 I was in Fort Wayne and that team made the playoffs. And actually honestly we lost in the championship to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. And I pitched the first game of that series, the championship series, after being hurt for about a month or so. So, it was a big moment for me to come back and not only do well, but be able to pitch in a big stage for me so far my first year of baseball. Doing that game 1 start was a proud moment for me.
Wayne: Now does your brother give you advice as far as pitching? How close do you, did you call him yesterday when you found out about the game?
Joe: Yeah, I talked to him a little bit. I knew he was probably getting bombarded with phone calls and text messages so I try to leave him alone. But he gives me tips. Not an overwhelming amount. He does a really good job. He tries to stay as hands off as possible, just let me develop on my own. But you know, after every one of my starts, he asks me how I felt and what happened and what I think I could have done better. And he gives me one thing to focus on from start to start, which is awesome for me because it’s like having a second pitching coach that obviously is doing something right. He’s pitching right out of the big leagues. So, he does a good job. But I really like it. It’s awesome.
Wayne: Are you going to follow him on Twitter now?
Joe: Yeah. [Chuckles]
Rebecca: He just opened his account.
Joe: Yeah, I saw it. And I knew he wasn’t a very big social media kind of person. So, at first I figured it was a fake account. I didn’t even really pay attention to it. But now you said, that’s kind of funny. I’m going to have to call him.
Rebecca: Just when did you know you were going to be a professional baseball player? When did you really figure out that, “This is my dream. I’m not just following my brother. This is my dream and what I really want to do”?
Joe: Ever since I was real little in grade school, anytime anyone asks, “What do you want to be?” professional baseball player, right away.
Rebecca: That was always…
Joe: Yeah. And everyone’s always like, “Okay. That’s an awesome goal to have. But if you were in a regular working job, 9 to 5, what do you want to be?” and I was like, “I want to be a professional baseball player.” So, I would say from seven.
Rebecca: As long as you remember really.
Joe: Yeah. But really, in high school, when I was getting recruited for colleges and then talk about the draft started, was when I was like, “Okay. My dream can come true.” And then it was like, “Could it come true a lot earlier than I may have expected?” So, I’d say sophomore, junior year of high school really was when it became extremely real at that time.
Wayne: Joe, thank you for your time.
Joe: Yeah, no problem.
Lake Elsinore is a terrific ballpark and a great place to take in some wonderful baseball (see schedule). They are celebrating their 20th (XX) anniversary this year too! We highly recommend you take a drive up the I-15 and enjoy a ballgame at The Diamond! And maybe see Joe Ross pitch!