A Game Of Second Chances

Despite being drafted twice by the Astros, Lancaster starter Austin Chrismon still couldn’t believe that he would be playing professional baseball. It was a long journey to his second draft day after years of preparing for that moment.

“It was a shock. I got a call from the scout and didn’t save his number because I didn’t even think about it,” Chrismon said. “I hadn’t talked to anybody.”

Austin Chrismon looks in for the pitch with the Quad Cities River Bandits earlier this season. (Jarah Wright)

Austin Chrismon looks in for the pitch with the Quad Cities River Bandits earlier this season. (Jarah Wright)

However, the Astros had kept their eyes on Chrismon since high school. Chrismon grew up in Virginia and took after baseball at a young age playing on travel ball teams when he was 10 years old.

“We did a lot of in-state traveling but would go to at least one national tournament out of state,” Chrismon said. “Then in high school, we would go to more college and professional scouting types of tournaments and traveled everywhere and anywhere on the East coast really like North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.”

He continued to hone his skills on the mound and posted strong numbers during high school earning honors such as being named the U.S. Air Force National Player of the Week and a state title during his junior year. The team was ranked number one in the nation by USA Today, Collegiate Baseball, and Baseball America polls.

“We had a lot of talent on that high school team and we won a lot of games which was really cool,” Chrismon said. “We basically had four or five guys playing Division One baseball after it. We were the first in our district to ever win the state title which is a good accomplishment.”

Despite his success, Chrismon wasn’t expecting to be drafted.

“I was driving home from high school and my buddy called me and he was a big baseball guy and followed all of the draft stuff. He said I was just drafted,” Chrismon said. “I was like no way so I got home and didn’t tell anybody. I checked the computer, saw it, and told me mom. She started crying and was happy. The scout came over to my house and we talked but I decided to go to school instead.”

Chrismon chose to go to East Carolina University playing for two seasons before making the decision to switch schools.

“At the time I committed there, there were a few coaches that I felt comfortable with and really enjoyed playing for. Things didn’t really pan out the way I thought it would because once I got there, there was a new pitching coach,” Chrismon said. “I wasn’t as comfortable there as I would have thought so I decided to transfer.”

He transferred to his hometown to continue playing at Christopher Newport University.

“I’ve grown up going to baseball games there and have known the coach pretty much my whole life. It wasn’t like a last resort and was the first school that I thought if I transferred I could play immediately,” Chrismon said. “I called up the coach, filled out an application, and eventually got in. I felt like it was just fun to keep playing. It’s really comfortable for me there and when I go home in the fall, I go to their games and practices and talk to them. I enjoyed my time there.”

After his junior year, Chrismon was playing in a collegiate summer league when he got the call that the Astros had taken him again.

“I only had the one area scout contact me in April and sent me a questionnaire and said he would also like to send me a redraft sheet because they were interested in selecting me,” Chrismon said. “But then nobody called me so when the draft came up, it was one of the last things on my mind. So the scout called me saying the Astros were going to pick me in the 26th round and wanted to see if I would sign. I didn’t even need to think about it and said yes.”

Chrismon said his whole family went into shock.

“I hadn’t talked to the scout in two months. I called my mom and she was like you’re kidding because we hadn’t heard anything. It was a huge surprise and I was really fortunate to get another chance,” Chrismon said. “I got to my summer ball game and talked to my coach because I was supposed to pitch that night’s game. He was happy for me. I went home the next day and three days after that I was in Greeneville, Tennessee.”

Coming into it, Chrismon said he knew it would be different than high school and college ball but that everything has exceeded his expectations.

“Every level that I’ve been to, the Astros have been first-class from the stadiums to the staff to the fans and it’s everything that I hoped it would be,” Chrismon said. “That’s really been a blessing because you hear the stories about how other teams are treated.”

Chrismon has risen to the occasion at each level he has played in with strong numbers and awards like being named a Midwest League All-Star this season but said what makes him happiest is still being able to play.

“It’s been great and I just try to take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and see how far it takes me,” Chrismon said. “I don’t think about my results too much. It’s just one of those things I’ve done my whole life, just go out there, compete, and see what happens. I do my best and hopefully that’s enough to where I can get a chance to keep moving up and hopefully win a championship.”

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