In the 35th round of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Luke Harrison from Indiana University. Harrison is one of the best pitchers in the school’s history, as he currently holds the Hoosier record for best career ERA. I was lucky enough to catch up with Luke regarding his career at Indiana, his draft experience, and his first season of professional baseball with the State College Spikes.
When did you start playing baseball and what got you into the sport?
Been playing baseball as long as anyone can play. Started at the youngest tee-ball age and have played every year since. It was one of the first sports my parents introduced me to. Naturally I liked it, so I stuck with it.
Did you ever think you would be sitting here today as a professional baseball player? Has the reality of it sunk in yet?
It has always been an aspiration of mine to play professional baseball. Having spent so much time and effort playing the game I love, it is extremely rewarding playing at such a high level and creating memories I will have for the rest of my life. However, most of these aspirations were to play in the MLB, so I am not satisfied just yet.
You’re ranked first all-time at Indiana University with a 1.44 ERA. How would you use your experience at Indiana to become a better baseball player both on and off the field?
Indiana University couldn’t have prepared me better for life outside of baseball as well as developing and extending my baseball career. I was lucky enough to be a part of teams that won the Big Ten regular season and tournament twice. On top of that, I was part of the 2013 team that played in Omaha. All these experiences developed my game and provided me with unique experiences that so few get to experience. For that, I am so thankful and have learned not only that hard work pays off but nothing comes easy and that you have to put in the work.
You’re represented by the Clutch Sports Agency Group; how helpful have they been in your transition to being a professional athlete?
Clutch has been great to me. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Sal put in a lot of time to make sure I was taken care of and worked hard throughout the whole draft process. Happy to be a member of the team as they continue to make things so much easier for me.
You were drafted in the 35th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. How much of a roller coaster of a night was that, until you finally found out you were selected by the Cardinals?
More like a roller coaster of a full day. Being a late rounder, I had to wait around longer which was tough because my brain was racing the whole time. I got to see a lot of my friends, ex-teammates, and guys I played against for years get drafted which was a lot of fun but also nerve racking at the same time. A couple picks before I was selected by the Cardinals, my internet went out. Then a scout called me and told me they selected me, and I was so excited that I didn’t even hear what team the scout was from. It wasn’t until after I got off the phone and saw all the text messages from friends and family saying it was the Cardinals. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced.
The Cardinals have been a very successful organization, and known for finding talent in the late rounds; do you think you have the ability to be another example of that? Does it fuel you any more since so many teams kept passing up on you?
My mindset wouldn’t have changed if I was a top-10-round pick. I am doing all that I can do to reach the big leagues and help the Cardinals win some games. However, there’s extra motivation to try and prove people wrong when you’re a late-round pick. It would be an honor to be another name in the long line of Cardinal late-round successes.
You’ve spent 17 games with the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League with a 1.02 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. What was the experience like playing your first year of professional baseball?
I learned a lot during my first professional baseball season. It definitely becomes a grind playing every day, but I really enjoyed playing at State College and learning a lot from my coaches and teammates.
What have you been doing this offseason to prepare for the 2016 season?
One of my goals this offseason was to become a lot more flexible. I have been doing yoga and have been spending hours a day stretching. On top of that, I am always trying to get stronger and have been following a strict lifting program. Took a couple months off of throwing after the season, and started my throwing program in December.
Individual goals that you want to accomplish for the upcoming season?
I want to continue to develop my overall game. I want to have the same confidence level in all my pitches. I want to continue to learn from my coaches and teammates. I want to be able to repeat my mechanics more consistently and use more of my lower body to increase velocity and take stress away from my arm.