Few years have passed since Jason Euler wore a Flagstaff High School baseball jersey, and the former Eagle hasn’t wasted any time moving up the college baseball ranks since.
After playing for a Mesa Community College team that won the 2014 NJCAA title, the 2011 FHS grad recently joined the Eastern Illinois Panthers to play ball starting in the fall. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander said he is looking forward to playing at the highest level of college baseball. Once he takes the field, Euler will have opportunities to compete with some of the best college teams in the nation, such Vanderbilt, the 2014 College World Series champs.
“You are playing against some of the SEC’s best baseball teams,” Euler said during a phone interview Tuesday. “To compete against that talent level and the amount of scouts that will see you is one step closer to being on the Major League stage.”
Euler will also get the chance to work with former Major League Baseball pitcher Jason Anderson on throwing mechanics while at the Division I school.
Entering Easter Illinois as a junior with a partial scholarship, Euler said he wants to study kinesiology and sports studies. But before he starts hitting the books and gearing up in a Panthers uniform, Euler has to finish his New York Collegiate Baseball League summer season with the Genesee Rapids.
As of press time, Euler boasts a .284 batting average and leads his team in the home run category with three. Euler also leads the Rapids in the win-loss pitching category as a closer with a 4-1 record and has the third-best ERA at 3.15.
Those numbers landed him a spot on the NYCBL All-Star Eastern Division’s roster as a first baseman.
The 13 teams in the NYCBL play almost daily from June 1 through July 24. Euler said the schedule is a grind, but it helps him understand what he must do to stay healthy while on a demanding schedule.
“A lot of college kids have summer jobs, but I get to go out and play baseball everyday,” Euler said.
In order to play in the NYCBL, Euler stays with a host family, which provides a roof over his head and meals. But being on the move and adjusting to new environments is not a new experience for the ballplayer.
Euler played summer league ball in Chicago for two seasons and had a stint at Irvine Community College. Euler hurt his arm throwing for Irvine his freshman year after taking a starting position and rehabbed it while playing Chicago summer league under the supervision of Mark Sheehan, who held a pitching coach position with the White Sox.
Euler red-shirted for MCC during his first season as he was still building his arm strength. A year later, Euler played on a No.1-ranked MCC team that clinched a NJCAA title after losing its first game in a double-elimination tournament.
“We thrived under pressure,” Euler said of his MCC team’s resilience to make it through the bracket with an early loss.
Euler, working as a set-up man and a closer, appeared in six games with MCC in 2014 for a total of eight innings pitched. He finished the season with a 2.25 ERA. At the plate for MCC, Euler recorded a .314 batting average and a .415 OBP.
“Playing for a junior college was one of the best decisions I’ve made.” Euler said, explaining that during his time at that level he was able to grow both physically and mentally.
Euler has displayed over the years that he is a threat on both sides of the plate. While he focuses on his pitching, Euler said he likes batting just as well.
“Whatever gets me in the lineup,” Euler said. “At the end of the day, I just want to play professional ball.”
Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.