There’s been no looking back for Silas Ardoin.
Why would he?
Yes, the Colorado Rockies took him late in the 2019 MLB Draft, and it would have been a great story had he gone there, joining the same organization that his father, Danny Ardoin, saw the bulk of his big-league playing time with.
But, even in the moment that he’d dreamed of all his life, Silas knew what he had to do, making a mature decision well beyond his years to honor his commitment after a thorough self-evaluation process.
“Going into my senior year, I really had no idea that I was a pro prospect until I made the Future Stars Series (International Week) event and made the Area Code event,” he said.
“Even after that, I didn’t think I was ready. Going through the high school season, we had a great season. It was a lot of fun, I played great. But, at the end of the season, it still seemed the easy option was to come to the University of Texas. I felt like I was underdeveloped, I wasn’t ready to go play pro ball. Honestly, at that time, I don’t think I knew how to handle failure. Not that I knew it back then, but coming to the University of Texas, this prestigious program, I’ve learned so much and it’s benefitted me so much to just come out here and fail and learn how to overcome that stuff. There’s a lot of talent around us, a lot of first-round talent and great players that come through this university, so to be able to come here and train and push myself and compare myself to those guys, it’s been awesome for me. I think the decision was easy for me to come to college.”
It’s a decision that’s paid off in a multitude of ways; Ardoin is considered to be one of, if not the best, collegiate catchers in the country, and his continued development with the Longhorns has vastly improved his stock in the upcoming MLB Draft, where a team would be wise to take him and see if he can unlock a ceiling as a major-league regular.
“It’s an honor when people bring my name up with the great catchers in the country, but I’m just trying to stay humble and do my work,” he said. “I do pay a little bit of attention to it, I want to know where I’m at compared to other people and how I can get better and what other catchers are doing better than me. I want to know all the little details, so sometimes I might read into it a little bit, but I try not to take it to heart.”
Ardoin studies numerous other college catchers like Ole Miss’ Hayden Dunhurst and Mississippi State’s Logan Tanner, as well as current big league backstops like Salvador Perez and Yadier Molina, but has had an obvious advantage of growing up under the tutelage of his father Danny, an extremely well-respected catcher and veteran of five MLB seasons with the Rockies, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was also a bit of a slippery slope growing up, as Ardoin played on Team Louisiana for his father Danny at times, which on the surface could be challenging with the perception of potentially being treated differently as the coach’s son.
“Team Louisiana is a great organization, they’ve done a lot for me and my family, including my older and younger brother, we all grew up playing on Team Louisiana,” Silas said. “My dad being my coach in summer ball actually helped me develop a lot as a player and to understand the game and the deeper meaning. There’s a lot to baseball, there’s a lot to learn, and I don’t think I have it all figured out, but I learned a lot through the process of playing with my dad…I can see where it could be tough, there were times where people messed with me about being the coach’s kid and this and that, but I always felt like I earned my spot. No matter what, whenever I was playing for my dad, I wouldn’t call him ‘Dad,’ I would always call him ‘Coach.’ I wanted to be treated like any other player.”
Growing up, there was plenty of baseball knowledge being passed through the Ardoin household, and Silas soaked it up, watching games with his father and learning some of the finer points of the game and the catching position at an early age.
“I’m lucky I have a big league dad,” Silas said of his father Danny, who now serves as a catching coordinator for the Future Stars Series. “Not everybody can say that. So I always tried to soak it all in, get all the knowledge I could.”
It’s clear that those messages got through loud and clear. Set to enter his redshirt sophomore season with the Longhorns, Ardoin turned in a breakout year in 2021, earning Honorable Mention Big-12 honors thanks to a season where he started 53 games behind the dish without making an error, threw out 20 of the 48 runners who attempted to steal on him, and handled an extremely talented pitching staff that helped Texas get all the way to the semifinals of the College World Series.
While the decision to go the college route was the right one in terms of his development, it’s also the type of environment that Ardoin has relished getting to play in.
“It’s been a blast,” he said. “College baseball is one of the most exciting sports that there is. Coming in, I wasn’t sure what to expect…but I came here with a level head and ready to put in the work, and it’s been awesome. It’s been a lot of fun being able to play against the highest competition every day, going into every game knowing we have a target on our back because we’re the University of Texas. But it’s a ton of fun. We know we have some good fans behind our backs, cheering us on, and we feed off of that. We have some great experiences beating some very good teams, simply because our fanbase got into it; they were loud, and the other team just felt the pressure that we were putting on them from on the field and our fans around the field. It’s second to none.”
After the team’s big run in Omaha, Ardoin is confident that they’ll have another chance to finish the job, with a chip on their collective shoulder from falling just short to eventual champion Mississippi State, saying they have a “special team” with a lot of experience and hungry players that hold each other to a high standard.
It is not the first time Ardoin has been part of such a group, however. Even with it being only a three-day event, he was able to experience something similar with the Future Stars Series as a member of the National Team at International Week in 2018, playing at Camelback Ranch. It was a formative experience for him, one that he says was his first taste of how professional baseball was run, and another, just like his time at Texas, where he was able to create friendships that have lasted.
“Looking back at that experience, it has a lot to do with where I’m at in my career,” said Ardoin, who still keeps in touch with Brock Jones, a projected top-five pick in the upcoming 2022 MLB Draft.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the Future Stars Series and all the guys who are there, Jeremy (Booth, CEO and President) and just everybody that has helped me get to where I am today. The Future Stars Series has played a big role in where I am with the University of Texas. Going to that week of work with those guys was awesome, there was a lot of great competition and a lot of great players out there; some of the best of the country, but what I liked best about it was it wasn’t only our country, there was international players from all over the world. You got to see the best. That was my first experience of what it’s like of professional baseball and what it’s like to work with those former big leaguers each and every day, teaching us how to go about our work and how to play the game. It was a lot of fun, and something I’ll hold on forever.”
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