Ledbetter's journey "one-in-infinity"

Rangers' third-round pick strikes out six in first pro victory

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | July 3, 2013 11:03 PM ET

David Ledbetter is looking to live out the boyhood dream of many young athletes and follow the Hollywood script from small-town hero to superstardom.

There's still a long way to go, admittedly, but the Rangers prospect is enjoying life as a professional athlete. And if he has his way, twin brother Ryan will be there every step of the way, too.

Ledbetter allowed three hits and a walk while striking out a career-high six batters over five innings Wednesday night as the short-season Spokane Indians coasted to an 11-0 thumping of the Tri-City Dust Devils.

He lowered his ERA to 0.53 and put up nothing but zeros for the third time in four Northwest League starts.

"It felt good," the 21-year-old right-hander said after recording his first win. "I was just throwing strikes and letting the defense work. They should get all the credit. I was trying to locate and command my fastball, that was the key. Establish the fastball inside and outside, and that will lead to success."

Selected in the third round of last month's draft, Ledbetter didn't exactly have a typical journey to pro ball. Along with his brother, he grew up in Fishers, a town of 79,000 in central Indiana and played college ball at little-known Cedarville University, a Division II liberal arts school about an hour's drive from Columbus, Ohio.

When Texas called his name 99th overall, he became the first player drafted out of Cedarville since 1987. On Day 3 of the Draft, Ryan joined him in the Rangers organization.

"You know how some people say they want to be a professional baseball player when they get older? That was me and Ryan," said Ledbetter, who throws a low-90s fastball, a changeup, a late-breaking slider and a loopy curveball out of an arm slot that is halfway between three-quarters and over the top.

"We were trying to put the odds of all of this together, of being born identical twins, playing at the same college, being drafted at all and then being drafted by the same team. We were two big, chubby kids when we were younger. We ran like Fred Flintstone, moving our feet quickly but not going anywhere. The odds are one-in-infinity."

Ledbetter went 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA as the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, leading all Division II hurlers with 13.65 strikeouts per nine innings. He was 20-10 with a 2.54 ERA during his three-year career as a Yellow Jacket, tying the school's all-time wins record.

"No matter where you go, you can always find competitive baseball," Ledbetter said. "People assume the best baseball is in the south, in Florida or in California, but you can find good baseball in the north or anywhere there's spirit. It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."

So far, the small-town pitcher has shown plenty of spirit.

Ledbetter allowed one hit over three innings in his pro debut on June 17 in Vancouver, then yielded four hits over five shutout frames his last time out on June 28 in Everett. The only time he's been scored on was Friday, when he allowed one run -- a solo homer -- over four innings against Boise on Friday.

"I didn't really have any expectations coming in," said Ledbetter. "I just wanted to come in and experience everything in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

As Ledbetter was shutting down Tri-City, his brother was making his fourth appearance of the season for the Rangers' affiliate in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Also a righty, he allowed two runs on one hit and three walks over 1 2/3 innings. Ryan, drafted in the 19th round, has a 4.26 ERA.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter . This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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