It is somewhat interesting hearing Ethan Frey described as an “under the radar” prospect for the upcoming 2022 MLB Draft.
After all, the Louisiana State University commit routinely hits baseballs that are typically only trackable by radar after heading into orbit.
Alas, he finds himself currently projected to go in the later rounds this upcoming summer, a forecast that will likely change after more and more teams not only see his impressive power, but also his positional versatility and agility for his size.
And if they don’t? LSU certainly will.
“As a Louisiana boy, that’s always been my dream college, just with how successful they’ve always been and with Jay Johnson coming in and doing good things for the college,” Frey told FutureStarsSeries.com. “It’s making me really happy to go there and be able to play in the Tigers uniform.”
Frey’s been committed to LSU for several years now, and recently signed his NLI, although it wasn’t always a given that’s where he’d end up given the significant amount of interest he’d been attracting for years now.
“When I was younger, it was a wide open process,” he said. “I didn’t know who was coming to me or not, but I noticed they started showing interest, and that’s when it started to dial in a little bit, like, ‘Hey, I may actually have a chance to go here.’ As soon as that opportunity came up, I took it. It’s always been a dream college, and they have a great baseball program and a great school for academics as well. Academics are everything nowadays. To get certain jobs, you have to have a certain education. Baseball’s going to end one day, so I have to get a great education somewhere, and thankfully LSU has that, along with a great baseball program.”
That’s not to say that a decision might not have to be made, however. As Frey’s stock continues to rise, it becomes more and more likely that he’ll end up going earlier rather than later in the Draft, which would mean he’ll have to figure out whether starting his pro career — and accepting the significant signing bonus offer that would come with that — or sticking with his dream school would be more beneficial to his career.
“It’s been a thought for a good couple months now, especially between my parents and I,” he said. “Just with what’s going to be the best for me and what’s going to be the best for my future, what’s going to be the best for my family. It’s definitely a daily talk in the household, and it’s something we’re going to have to keep talking about and seeing what we want to do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely hard and it really takes a mature mind to be able to think about stuff like that, but I’m just a kid and it’s crazy to think that, yes, I play this game for fun, but there may be a business opportunity for me. I enjoy knowing that every day I worked, it’s starting to pay off, and one day soon it’ll come down to a big decision on what I want to do.”
Frey says he hears a lot from people around him about seeing his name associated with various MLB Draft lists and mocks and so forth, but he mostly keeps that on the backburner as the decision gets closer and closer.
Funny enough, it isn’t quite the type of decision many thought Frey would be making at this point in his amateur career. A very highly talented and recruited high school quarterback who’s attended several elite camps on the national level, there was always a thought that he may one day go that route instead.
“I don’t think football’s in the situation,” he said. “I wish it would have been, but I’m just thankful I was able to play when I was and was able to learn some of the lessons I did through football and get as close to some of my boys as I did through football. Football taught me a lot of good life lessons, whether it was on the field or not, and it brought a lot of good to me. But, I think sometimes chapters just have to close, and I think that’s the best thing for that chapter, it has to close. It’s definitely hard, I’ve always enjoyed football. The love I have for baseball, I share for football, but baseball’s my sport and it’s got my heart. It definitely hurt me to put (football) in the past a little bit, but some good things have to come to an end, and I accepted that.”
Frey’s love for baseball, not to mention his undeniable prowess at it, has been evident to anyone around him over the past few years. We first saw him as a member of Team Louisiana, where both his bat and skills behind the plate as a catcher made him stand out right away.
“If it wasn’t for travel ball, Future Stars Series and Team Louisiana, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Frey said. “They all helped me get my name out there so much, and I couldn’t be more thankful for a program that’s helped me as much as they have. I definitely would not be in the shoes I am today if it wasn’t for them. It’s everything. You can learn a lesson every time you step on the baseball field, and that’s something Team Louisiana definitely implemented, just learning something and being better people on and off the field. They did a really good job of making sure we’re set up for life, not just on the baseball field. I’m thankful for what they’ve done.”
In being a partner program with the Future Stars Series, Team Louisiana was able to have Frey go through the process and participate in all of the jewel events over the past few years; he worked his way through the National Tournaments, to the Underclass Combine in 2020, National Combine in 2021 and all the way to the Main Event at Citi Field later that year.
“It was a dream,” Frey said. “When I first found out about it, it was in Boston, but either way, it was a dream come true to be able to play on an MLB field. Just to be able to walk through a couple days of MLB life; going from the locker rooms to getting food to the field to take BP and then getting to play games, it really made me realize that they’re doing some good stuff over here. You can’t get that stuff anywhere else you go. There’s barely any showcases that are offering that kind of exposure to teenage kids. It made me enjoy it a little more.”
It also put Frey in a best-on-best environment that will better prepare him for whatever path he chooses next.
“It definitely set us up,” Frey said. “We faced some of the better arms in the country there, and just to know that I was competing against some of the best kids in the nation really made me realize that, ‘Hey, this is your shot. You’re competing with the best kids in the nation, you’re here, we’re all putting the work in.’ It definitely hit that realization where it’s like, ‘We’re here, we’ve got to keep working.’ These are the best kids in the country, and I’m sitting right next to them. So it definitely made me realize we have to put more work in.”
It, of course, wasn’t all work in New York City. Frey and his family enjoyed their first trip to the Big Apple, especially given how different it is from where he’s from.
“I come from a small town, and we know everybody where we live, so it was a little different,” he said. “I had to get used to it for a couple days. We walked everywhere we went. The food was good. Definitely no southern food there, but it was pretty nice, I’m not going to lie.”
Frey, who was working through some injury issues this past year, says he’s “feeling great” now and that he’s at his best where he’s at physically right now. Since we last saw him in September, he’s put more of an emphasis on becoming more of an all-around player; he’s been trying to improve his speed, contact, two-strike approach, and just turning in more quality at-bats.
But, he’s also been working on his defense, which has been solid wherever he’s played, but…where is he going to play? There could certainly be concerns that his frame is too big to to keep behind the plate long-term — Frey played some first base at the Main Event, which could potentially be a future spot for him — but for now, he says he’s willing to play wherever he can best help the team, regardless of where that is.
“I’ve had talks with some people about being behind the plate, and I’ve had some talks with people about being at first or even in the outfield somewhere,” he said. “But, to be honest, when it comes down to it at the end of the day, I just want to play. Wherever they put me, I’ll get a glove and I’ll go play. It’s a game, and I’m thankful just to be able to play it at a high level. If they tell me they want to see me somewhere, I’m willing. The position doesn’t really matter to me.”
With so much uncertainty about his future — both in position and exactly where it’ll all unfold between either LSU or in pro ball — many would be anxious about how it’ll all play out. Not Frey, who’s genuinely excited to see what’s next for him over these next few months.
“I really need to sit down and put more thought into what I actually want to do, whether I want to go to the pros or I want to go to college and just have a couple more years before I want to go play baseball even more,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream, but at this point, I’ve got to go about it like a business opportunity, and make the most of it that I can and make sure I’m in the best spot to do what I want to do with this opportunity.”
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