Daniel Ross has travelled thousands of miles to get where he is today. Born in Japan, Ross moved to the US to play collegiate baseball at Fresno State College.
“The big reason was my high school coach Charles Star, he was from Fresno State College and he was the one who recommended me to go there.” Ross says.
From there, Ross continued his way east and made it to Millersville after his dad’s job sent him to Pennsylvania. He says he felt this was the perfect opportunity to play baseball around his family after being away from them for three years.
“I wanted to play baseball around my family, and I wanted to see them since I had been away from them for like three years being at Fresno. I started looking at colleges in Pennsylvania and we looked at a lot of Division II schools and once I started to talk to coach Shehan, I loved it here right away,” Ross says.
Ross was excited to be here in Pennsylvania around his family, but it was also important that coach Jon Shehan sold him on the program. The toughest adjustment, however, was that he was from Japan and there were some major language barriers.
“There was a lot of language barriers and cultural barriers that didn’t click in immediately. But the language barrier kept me away from knowing people more and it was harder to understand people more,” Ross says.
Ross was concerned that the fact that he was still learning English might be a challenge or make it harder to get along with his teammates. But his language barrier wasn’t just holding him back off the field, it created on the field challenges as well. There are things about baseball that are universal, but Ross says in Japan players think differently.
“It’s a little bit different like how people think, baseball is played a little differently. I don’t have any quick examples but everything didn’t make sense or click for me right away,” Ross says.
So, once Ross got adjusted and started playing at Millersville he took off. In 2018 he made 10 appearances on the mound posting an ERA of 3.72. He stuck out 17 batters in seven innings and his impact on the team was felt right away. 2019 is when Ross got a bigger role and started to have Major League teams take notice. He slid into the starting rotation as Millersville’s fourth starter and posted a 3-2 record with an ERA of 3.62.
Ross’s successful season paid off in the long run as he soon got the call that he would be drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates became interested in him from the first game they saw Ross pitch when he was throwing around 93-94 MPH.
“I averaged 93-94 one game and that was the first time I was really throwing hard. I haven’t really thrown that hard since, but that was the first time they noticed,” Ross says.
Impressively, he became even more dominant when runners were on base holding the batters to an average of .228 when the bases were occupied.
Going from college to pro isn’t easy and Ross says the adjustments between programs took time getting used to.
“The biggest adjustment was probably following the programs. In college we had a lot of programs like driveline and stuff like that. Now that I am in pro ball, arm care routines are a lot different and I feel professional ball clubs don’t want to touch young kids arms and they want to keep them natural as much as possible,” Ross says.
Ross says that he thinks professional teams don’t want to tweak young kids arms as much. His adjustments came more in the form of pre workouts and the different regiments Ross was put on and what the Pirates saw fit.
Ross seems like he’s well-adjusted and ready for whatever comes his way. After playing a season in the minors it has sunk in that he has been drafted and that this is his life now. Ross has certainly travelled a long way from Japan to get to where is today. But in the end, it just goes to prove that baseball can take you anywhere. Nothing seems to phase Ross. He is devoted to one day putting on a Pirates uniform.