Riley Echols Headed to the Big Leagues; Taken in Day Three of MLB Draft

Riley Echols Headed to the Big Leagues; Taken in Day Three of MLB Draft

Mon, Jun. 19, 2017 - [Baseball]

Matt Barker, Sports Information Director

HENDERSON, Tenn. – Freed-Hardeman flame thrower Riley Echols recently joined the ranks of the best collegiate baseball players the nation, as he was taken in the 24th round on Day Three of the Major League draft by the Cleveland Indians.

The news came as no shock to FHU nation, as Echols impressed his senior season on the mound, posting a 6-2 record while fanning 80 batters in 77.2 innings of work. In addition to his impressive record, Echols pitched in the mid-90’s for a majority of the season, which peaked the interest of several scouts who attended games during his senior campaign.

Prior to his time at Freed-Hardeman, Echols spent three years at NCAA Division 1 Central Arkansas, where he appeared in 11 games his junior season at UCA and compiled a 3-2 record while striking out 20 batters in 43 innings of work.

According to Indians scout Jeff Ellis, Echols is projected to be a potential starter this summer for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a short-season A-classification team for the Indians.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Echols to get his reaction to being drafted and his upcoming plans.

1. What was your first reaction when you found out you were drafted by the Cleveland Indians?

A mixture of excitement and relief, that the opportunity that I had been working for since I began playing baseball at 8 years old was finally coming true.

2. Who has been the most influential person in your life that has helped you get to this point in your career?

There are so many that have had an impact on my life. It starts with my family and their support, and then the numerous coaches that I have had including Al Stevens (Harding Academy), Buzz Walthal (Memphis Tigers) and Jeff Duncan.

3. How do you feel your time at Freed-Hardeman prepared you for this next step in your career?

Freed- Hardeman allowed me to be myself, in an environment where my teammates and coaches supported and cared about me as a person while working to develop me as a player.

4. How many teams were you aware of that were considering drafting you?

 I know there were quite a few scouts that attended FHU games throughout the season? I heard from 24 teams during the process but it became clear as the draft grew closer it would come down to the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners.

6. What strengths do you feel you have that will benefit the Indians?

The ability to move into a role as a relief pitcher at the next level focusing on power pitching in short relief.

7. Tell me about your family and their reaction to you being drafted.

They were excited to see my reaction to the news and felt blessed for the opportunity I will have to continue to play baseball and fulfill my dream.

8. How did having Coach Jonathan Estes, a former MLB player for the Cardinals, help you as you strived to make it to the big leagues?

The constant support and encouragement from Coach Estes gave me confidence to work through the ups and downs of a season. He supported me with the scouts and MLB teams that reached out to me throughout the process while helping me stay focused on developing as a player and a teammate.  His experience of going through the process and the advice he gave me was a tremendous help. Coach Estes was a major factor in my decision to play baseball at Freed-Hardeman.

9. What was your favorite part about playing at FHU for your senior season?

My favorite part about playing at FHU my senior season was the opportunity to further develop my pitching with Coach Estes and Tim Kay while having fun playing baseball with great teammates.

10. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

I would like to thank all the friends and team mates(especially the Seniors) that I made during my short time at Freed, they welcomed me in as part of the Freed family supporting and helping me reach my goals of being drafted and graduation. I look forward to staying in touch as I continue this next step in my baseball journey. I am so thankful and blessed. GO LIONS!