PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Many children grow up playing baseball and dream of someday playing in the major leagues.
Brookville's Ryan Barrett is one step closer to achieving that dream, as he was selected recently to play in the California Winter League (CWL), a prestigious instructional league from which many players are selected to play professionally.
"I'm hoping to get picked up by a team," Barrett said before leaving for Palm Springs, Calif., today. "It's my dream to play professional baseball; that's what I've been working for my entire life."
Barrett said he has been playing baseball his whole life. He pitched at the high school level at Keystone High School in Knox, then he went on to play at Elizabethtown College, from where he graduated in 2010.
Since then, Barrett has been a relief pitcher for the Brookville Grays in the Federation League.
During the 2011 season with the Grays, Barrett competed in 11 games, pitching a total of 30 innings. The Grays were 11-9, and Barrett earned four of those wins. He was charged with only one loss on the season.
Barrett gave up just 17 earned runs for a .397 earned run average, and he struck out 25 batters over the course of his 30 innings pitched. He gave up 33 hits, averaging only three per game and just more than one per inning.
Because Barrett has competed at several different levels of baseball, his hope for the CWL is to be noticed by professional scouts.
"That's definitely my number one goal," Barrett said. "It's my dream. I've played high school; I've played college. That next step is to play professionally."
As a relief pitcher, Barrett is looking forward to having a good amount of playing time in Palm Springs.
After the CWL's 2011 season, the league was expanded to an eight-team format due to the successes the league saw. According to its Web site, more than 60 percent of the players in 2011 were selected either by college or professional teams.
Barrett will travel to Palm Springs today and will report to the league Wednesday. There is a two-day evaluation process, during which coaches gauge the talents of all the players. A 12-inning scrimmage then takes place before the coaches and managers select their teams.
Barrett said he is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the coaches of the CWL, many of whom have coached in the minor leagues.
"That is something I've never had, working with that caliber coach," Barrett said. "They can help me, so I can work on my mechanics and my delivery. ... To have these coaches will be great, and I'm really excited about that."
Barrett said he is also expecting a highly competitive atmosphere, which he hopes will help him continue to improve.
"Playing in college, it was really competitive, but to have so many guys that are from all different parts of the country, it's going to be good baseball," Barrett said. "It's going to be really competitive. I'm really excited."
CWL games will begin Saturday and will continue on an almost-daily basis until Feb. 17, when the championship game takes place.