It has been an eventful year for Ryan January.
The Swampscott native was cited as one of the top prospects in New England before the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last June, but never heard his name called.
Not receiving a shot at the professional ranks was definitely an obstacle, but January has moved on and is making the most of his latest opportunity at San Jacinto College in Texas.
“The transition is hard for everyone and was hard for me,” January said. “But I was a little bit more comfortable, quicker than other people, just playing around and against this competition … since I’ve been playing with this competition since I was about 14.”
Originally committed to continue his baseball career at LSU, January has been an impressive addition to the Gators’ lineup, hitting .370 with five home runs, a team-high 11 doubles and 24 RBIs.
While the college game is a new experience for January, he has used it as an important step to eventually reach his ultimate goal of playing professional baseball.
San Jacinto assistant coach Jimmy Durham, who recruited January, sees that future, and knows that the future is beginning to take shape.
“He’s getting a lot of looks here,” Durham said. “There are a lot of scouts who really like him and are following him. …Everybody knew he was here. (The word) gets around pretty quick.”
Churning out talent to the next level is nothing new for San Jacinto, which has produced former All-Star pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, to name a couple.
January’s talent is in line with the players who have went on to play professionally after their time at San Jacinto, under the direction of 15th-year head coach Tom Arrington.
“He’s just an amazing athlete and he’s got a lot of baseball in front of him to be played,” Durham said. “Size wise (at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds), he’s a prototypical guy for the next level, and we like guys that are going to play at the next level.”
Durham has seen great improvement in January’s defensive play over the course of this season, helping the Gators to a 22-6 record. However, January has focused on making himself a more well-rounded player.
“If I’m a catcher working with the pitching staff we have, which is considered one of the best in the country, you’re bound to get better,” January said. “That is something I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at, but my focus has been trying to get better all around. The game speeds up a little bit, but you just want to maintain your level of play.”
January’s road to junior college baseball is not one many New Englanders take up, but he has learned a great deal from the experience that will translate well to his future.
The former Big Blue and Salisbury School (Salisbury, Conn.) star is currently being sought after by multiple Southeastern Conference schools to continue his baseball career at the Division 1 level next season.
January is making the most of his time at San Jacinto now, and knows how much it will help him in achieving his goals for the future.
“Getting better is something you’re definitely going to do when you’re at a place like San Jac,” January said. “It’s a pretty good powerhouse for baseball, especially junior college, and for guys like me who want to get back in the draft next year.”
Going through the draft process this past summer was a definite learning experience for January, but he’s certainly hoping for more than just experience as the future draws closer.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.