RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Ryan Clifford was off to a fast start in his sophomore year on the diamond.
In just four games, he slammed three home runs, knocked in 12 runs, and batted .692. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Yeh it was pretty unfortunate but lucky for me I still have two more years of high school left,” said Clifford. “I really think it really affects the seniors who were hoping to show a lot for their senior year. But luckily I still have two more years left.”
And those two year will now be spent here, playing year round with the Pro5 Baseball Academy and not at Leesville Road.
Clifford is the number one ranked player in the nation for the class of 2022. To be able to make a career out of baseball, he and his family decided year-round training was the route to take.
“Yeh it’s great it’s cool to have the accolades but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter for player development,” Clifford admitted. “I still have to go out every day, day in and day out, and try to be the best I can be.”
Mike Griffin is the head coach at Pro5. He knows talent when he sees it. His academy sends 90 percent of its players either on to college or straight to the pros.
“He’s got a special mentality, he’s definitely got elite-level tools, bat speed, gameplay and game awareness is special,” Griffin said. “I think he has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Clifford will be sharpening those tools day in and day out with and against some of the best talents in the nation. It’s a big reason why he left the comforts of a traditional high school.
“No I wouldn’t say it’s scary it’s all fun,” said Clifford. “Whenever baseball becomes more of a job than it does having fun that’s when you’ve got to reconsider what you’re doing. It’s all fun, getting better and I enjoy it a lot.”
Being the number one player in the nation means having a bullseye on your back. And that’s just fine with Clifford.