The Road to the Show, referring to a player’s journey to the majors, is different for everyone. For the likes of Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Mike Trout and others, the time leading up to their call up is relatively short, as a chance at the majors is inevitable. For others, the road can be long, and may not end in an MLB stadium.
Joey Chandler-Ross was never even supposed to begin the journey.
Chandler-Ross, who is named after the beloved sitcom “Friends” that brought his parents together, could have never imagined a career in baseball during his early years. Even though he fell in love with the sport from a young age, the odds have always been stacked up against him. Born into a family that had no kin over five feet and seven inches, Joey only sits at five feet and five inches. That would make him one of the shortest players to ever reach the MLB. On top of that, a long struggle with obesity has Chandler-Ross weighing in at 220 pounds. That combination along with the fact that his natural position was shortstop, did not bode well for him.
Yet even with all his problems, Chandler-Ross still had a stellar high school career, finishing with All-New York first-team honors three times, and a career .467 batting average during his time at Manhattan High School. But the honors did not mean that he was a shoe-in for the MLB draft. Scouts had come to his games and immediately written the shortstop off due to his physical appearance.
With his chance at the show seeming bleak, Chandler-Ross was able to earn an invite to the Topps Scout Showcase, an event that puts the best of the nation against each other with hundreds of scouts watching closely as the players partake in batting practice and scrimmages. Chandler-Ross would have to dazzle the scouts if he wanted to hear his name called on draft night.
He did just that during batting practice, launching balls to every part of the field and greatly impressing the scouts. With his draft stock rising fast, it was a great debut for Chandler-Ross.
After his rounds of batting practice, a few scouts even came over to Joey to tell him how impressed they were with his swings.
That debut would take a turn south during the scrimmages. Chandler-Ross went a combined 1-8 during the two games and looked greatly overwhelmed at the plate, striking out five times.
With the showcase over and no real signs of where he would fall on draft night, the only thing left to do was wait for the phone to ring.
Eventually it would ring, and the PIttsburgh Pirates were on the other line. With the thirteenth pick in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Joey Chandler-Ross was being offered a chance at the playing professional ball. He would accept, hoping to one day prove all of his doubters wrong.
Chandler-Ross will begin his Road to the Show playing for the AA Altoona Curve next week. We will have weekly updates of his journey towards baseball stardom.