By: Sam Jellinek
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The past two months of Drew Ellis’s life have been so
unpredictable, so unfathomable, that anyone writing a movie script would have
dismissed the events out of hand as too unrealistic. Yet, Ellis has lived those
events. He’s gone from unemployed to returning to Double-A at age 27 to
dominating the International League to getting called up the Majors to then
returning to Lehigh Valley. Did I mention this all happened in the span of a
To back the story up, this all began when Ellis was released
by the Seattle Mariners on March 17. With the Phillies dealing with some
injuries across their minor league rosters, Ellis was signed to a Minor League
free agent contract on April 16 and eventually assigned to double-A Reading to
help fill a position hole. Eventually, the IronPigs were a position player
short and Ellis was promoted to Lehigh Valley on May 17.
In his own words, Ellis was basically sitting on the couch
waiting for the phone to ring when the Phillies came knocking. Ellis was
getting so desperate that he was starting to think about going and playing
Independent baseball just to keep on playing. Call it divine provenance or good
timing, but the Phillies answered Ellis’s prayers.
Ellis made an immediate impact with the IronPigs, driving in
a run in his first game on May 18 against Worcester. The real fun began the
next day though. He homered twice and drove in five runs before homering in
both games of a doubleheader two days later, driving in seven more runs. With
four homers and 13 RBI and just four games, Ellis was named the International
Player of the Week.
“For me, I’m just trying to take every opportunity that I
can to go out and have fun and play the game the right and enjoy the time in
the clubhouse and on the baseball field with these guys. It’s been a great ride
so far. I’m just trying to go out there and be as consistent as possible. Got
some results early here and hopefully I can be consistent and continue to put
up some results for the boys,” Ellis said.
Being in Ellis’s shoes would be hard for anyone who wasn’t
him. Naturally, great play and homers will win you a lot of friends quickly in
the clubhouse. But on top of that, Ellis has proven adept at fitting in
“The guys have been really good. It’s a really good
atmosphere, great camaraderie. They play the game the right way and enjoy it.
It’s been great to be around these guys and this group.”
Even still, there’s a good amount of poking and good-natured
ribbing that goes on. Ellis has made fast friends with the rest of his
infielders, but that doesn’t mean he lets Weston Wilson forgot what happened in
“Just for the record, when we were Juniors in 2017,
Louisville, my team, actually swept Weston’s team, Clemson, right before ACC
play. A reminder that the Cardinals were superior to the Tigers.”
Drew’s immediate results on the field grabbed headlines and
turned heads, enough so, that the Phillies took notice. When Alec Bohm went on
the Injured List at the beginning of June, it was Ellis who replaced him on the
roster. Just two months after wondering if and where his baseball career would
continue, Drew Ellis was back in the Major Leagues.
Just like he did in Lehigh Valley, Ellis made an immediate
impact for the Phillies. On June 4, Ellis went 3-for-5 with two homers against
the Washington Nationals in a 11-3 Phillies win. Ellis was optioned back to
Lehigh Valley on June 11.
Ellis’s journey has continued to this point now with the
IronPigs. A whirlwind journey has settled down just a little bit now with Ellis
entrenched in the middle of the IronPigs lineup.
While he has settled in to his new reality, the
transactional baseball life is one Ellis has been living for years. In the past
two years, Ellis has been designated for assignment by both Arizona and
Seattle, claimed off waivers by Seattle, and ultimately released by Seattle. He
understands the business and has the mindset to match.
“I got the highest of highs in 2021 (making his Major League
debut) and I selfishly got complacent with where I was at. I was happy and I
didn’t work as hard to take care of the things I needed to take care of. You
never want to get DFA’d or released, but sometimes it is a blessing in disguise
to get another opportunity. I got this opportunity with the Phillies and I’m
super grateful for it. If you would’ve told me that I would then have the week
that I did have to kick it off here, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Having gone through the gauntlet, Ellis has the mindset
ready for the trials and tribulations that the rest of the season is sure to
hold. Ellis says, “Just have to take it one day, one at-bat at a time, and
that’s been my mindset lately. Not focusing on the result, more so focusing on
the connection with the guys here and the process.”