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How hometown, family and faith made Blubaugh a baseball player

Vaseline 2 months ago

SUGAR LAND, TX – When AJ Blubaugh was named to the Clear Fork Colts’ varsity basketball roster as a freshman, it said he was 6-foot-4 and weighed 120 pounds.

That was probably about four inches and thirty pounds too much.

Fast forward to today and he’s a stocky 6-2, 190 pounds throwing fastballs as fast as 90 miles per hour at Triple-A hitters in Sugar Land, Texas. My, how times have changed.

And yet they haven’t changed that much. What the roster measurements didn’t show was the size of his heart and his determination. It didn’t show his positive attitude and incredible upbringing in a family built on faith.

AJ Blubaugh was joined by his parents Reggie (left) and Erin (right) after a game in Corpus Christi last summer.AJ Blubaugh was joined by his parents Reggie (left) and Erin (right) after a game in Corpus Christi last summer.

AJ Blubaugh was joined by his parents Reggie (left) and Erin (right) after a game in Corpus Christi last summer.

It didn’t show how little Bellville, Ohio would build up the No. 8 pitching prospect in the entire Houston Astros farm system. It didn’t show that all it took was Blubaugh’s family to believe in him, his coaches to trust him, a small Division I college in Milwaukee to offer him his only D1 scholarship and the Astros to get a to take a chance and get him seventh place. round draft.

That’s how Bellville built a baseball player.

“I would say it has everything to do with how I carry myself today,” Blubaugh said. “The way I was raised, my parents gave me everything I could ask for and more. They taught me a humble approach to the game and never left me satisfied. Being from Bellville and being under-recruited for college, I always got that underdog mentality and never felt satisfied.

Blubaugh made his Triple-A debut on April 11, a win on the mound where he pitched five scoreless innings in a 5-2 win over the Albuquerque Isotopes. He struck out six, walked two and allowed just two hits, holding the Isotopes to a .111 batting average against the hard-throwing right-hander from Bellville.

And yet he was far from satisfied, despite his first outing going as well as it could have. And it’s the same way he’s going to approach his career. Yes, he’s proud of himself for making it within one step of becoming a Major League baseball player, but he can’t be satisfied.

“Sure, I made it to Triple-A, but that’s not the goal,” Blubaugh said. “Will I be happy one day if I get called up to the Big Leagues? Yes. But will I be satisfied with my end goal? No.”

2019 Clear Fork graduate AJ Blubaugh made the most of his time in Corpus Christi before being drafted to Triple-A Sugar Land and is now just one step away from the majors.2019 Clear Fork graduate AJ Blubaugh made the most of his time in Corpus Christi before being drafted to Triple-A Sugar Land and is now just one step away from the majors.

2019 Clear Fork graduate AJ Blubaugh made the most of his time in Corpus Christi before being drafted to Triple-A Sugar Land and is now just one step away from the majors.

Matthew McConaughey’s quote continues to inspire Blubaugh

Blubaugh finally had some free time from all his traveling around the country to play baseball and decided to distract himself with a scrolling session on his phone. There he came across a video that caught his attention. It was Texas native Matthew McConaughey and his 2014 Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actor. What he said stuck with Blubaugh and caused him to change the way he viewed life and his baseball journey.

McConaughey said:

“When I was 15 years old, a very important person in my life came to me and said, “Who is your hero?” And I said, ‘I don’t know, I have to think about it. Give me a few weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says, “Who’s your hero?” I said, ‘I’ve thought about it. Do you know who it is? In ten years it will be me.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes up to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, ‘Not even close. No no no.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because at 35 I’m my hero.” So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life my hero is always ten years away is. I will never be my hero. I’m not going to achieve that. I know that’s not the case, and I’m okay with that, because that keeps me with someone to keep chasing.

From the day Blubaugh watched that video, he knew this was the way he wanted to approach his baseball career.

“I chase who I know I can be,” Blubaugh said. “That brought everything together for me. I have my role models and people I look up to like my parents, siblings and some of my best friends, but at the same time you have to look up to yourself and that’s where I am. I’m proud of where I am now, but I have a vision of what I want to be in a few years and that’s what I’m chasing.

2019 Clear Fork graduate AJ Blubaugh made the most of his time in Corpus Christi before being drafted to Triple-A Sugar Land and is now just one step away from the majors.2019 Clear Fork graduate AJ Blubaugh made the most of his time in Corpus Christi before being drafted to Triple-A Sugar Land and is now just one step away from the majors.

2019 Clear Fork graduate AJ Blubaugh made the most of his time in Corpus Christi before being drafted to Triple-A Sugar Land and is now just one step away from the majors.

The greater appreciation for his faith makes Blubaugh feel grateful

The child who built Bellville haunts the man who continues to raise his hometown every day.

He is a child who was always a fervent believer, but has found a deeper appreciation for his faith. Since beginning his whirlwind professional baseball career, which saw him rip through all levels of the minor league system in two years, Blubaugh decided early on that he would focus his faith in a familiar place.

“I’ve been diving a little deeper into my faith lately,” Blubaugh said. “I’ve always believed in God, but lately I’ve really connected on a deeper level because I feel so truly blessed, not just in baseball, but in life in general. Health, family health, a great girlfriend and great support from all around. It’s a blessing upon a blessing and I can’t thank God enough. I talk to him more often and have become more interested in Scripture. I truly believe that has been a big part of me being where I am today.”

It’s hard to argue. Since being drafted in the summer of 2022, Blubaugh has played for Single-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers, High Single-A Asheville Tourists, Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and now Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys. He hasn’t even played 150 innings of minor league baseball and he’s one phone call away from making The Show.

And he gets absolutely no credit for his successes. That goes for everyone who helped him get where he is today.

“I find myself so grateful to all the people who brought me here,” Blubaugh said. “I could go on and on about all the people who brought me here. Before my outings, I find it very easy to find reasons to keep going. That self-determination and the look in the mirror make it very easy to start playing this game.”

And every time he steps foot on the mound, he makes sure he positively represents his family, his hometown and his faith with every pitch.

Because Bellville built it to throw.

This article originally appeared in Mansfield News Journal: AJ Blubaugh makes his way through the Houston Astros’ farm system, on the cusp of MLB dreams