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Loch Raven grad Ross thriving for Double-A Mississippi Braves

Loch Raven High graduate Greg Ross has been the most consistent starting pitcher the past month for the Mississippi Braves, the Atlanta Braves Double-A affiliate.
Loch Raven High graduate Greg Ross has been the most consistent starting pitcher the past month for the Mississippi Braves, the Atlanta Braves Double-A affiliate. (Photo courtesy of Mississippi Braves)

Greg Ross, a Loch Raven High School graduate and a pitcher for Atlanta's Double-A affiliate, the Mississippi Braves, was trying too hard to make an impression early in the season.

His earned-run average ballooned to 6.62.

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"I think early in the year he was pressing and trying to get out of here instead of doing what he does best," Mississippi pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn said.

The early-season woes for the Towson resident are a distant memory.

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In the second half of the season, Ross has been impressive

His last three starts — all victories — have been excellent. He capped the stretch with a 7-0 win over Biloxi by throwing 7 1/3 innings. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out five batters.

"He's been our most consistent starter the last month," Lewallyn said. "He's always been well liked in the organization and what he has been doing lately is keeping him on the radar."

For the 25-year-old Ross, every good outing seems to add to his chances of getting promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett or even Atlanta.

"I feel I am a phone call away from the big leagues," said Ross, who compiled a 2.04 ERA in July. "That's the ultimate goal. I think now I am pitching the best that I have in my entire (five-year) professional career. I am throwing all my pitches for strikes. I am very relaxed and very confident on the mound."

Ross is encouraged by the promotions of several teammates.

"I watched Chasen Shreve get called up to Atlanta and he was in the same locker room as me," Ross said of the current New York Yankees reliever. "The Braves have made so many moves all year long. I was playing catch with (pitcher) Jake Brigham every day. He goes to Triple-A, then he is in the Big Leagues. (Pitcher) Jason Hursh was my roommate on the road and he was just called up to Triple-A."

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Ross is doing the same thing this season that has helped him get promoted three times in the past four years four years: throwing strikes.

He does it with a four-pitch repertoire that includes a fastball, slider, cutter and changeup. He tops out in the low 90s on the radar gun.

"He is not one of guys who lights it up," Lewallyn said. "He wasn't a high draft pick, so you aren't going to say he is a can't-miss prospect. But he throws four pitches over the plate. He is calm, in control out there and seems unfazed. He deals with adverse situations well."

Ross was named a Carolina League All-Star with Lynchburg last year, going 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA before getting promoted to Mississippi.

There, he went 7-3 with a 2.08 ERA and gave up 63 hits in 78 innings while striking out 44 and walking 20.

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Things were different early this season.

"I wanted to pitch better than I did all of last year," Ross said. "That's what mentally got me. I was trying to be too perfect and good instead of just maintaining what I was doing."

Lewallyn said Ross overcame his mental and mechanical problems.

"He worked really hard in the bullpen to get that straightened out," he said. "He just needs to continue with exactly what he is doing and I would expect him to be in Triple-A (next year)."

Atlanta drafted Ross in the 18th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft out of Frostburg State University.

He pitched two years at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex before playing at Frostburg.

"I meet new players all the time," Ross said. "They always ask me, 'Where did you go to school?' I tell them, and I can see that look.

"I have always had that underdog mentality. I didn't get a big signing bonus. It kept me motivated and made me work even harder."

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