Ballou ahead of schedule

Published 9:02pm Saturday, August 2, 2014

Former Nansemond-Suffolk Academy baseball standout Isaac Ballou has not stayed in one place for long during the last year or so, and for a professional baseball player climbing up through the minor leagues, that is a good thing.

Moving man: Isaac Ballou, formerly of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, has quickly moved up through the ranks of the Washington Nationals’ minor league system, currently competing at the Class A Advanced league level.
Moving man: Isaac Ballou, formerly of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, has quickly moved up through the ranks of the Washington Nationals’ minor league system, currently competing at the Class A Advanced league level.

Ballou was recently called up to the Potomac Nationals, the Class A Advanced league affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the MLB team which drafted him in the 15th round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft.

He spent three quarters of this season with the Nationals’ Class A league team, the Hagerstown Suns. But since spring training mixed players from different leagues, he got a taste of what the competition was like at Potomac’s level, preparing him for the eventual call-up.

“I felt like I could compete pretty well, so when I got the news, I was very excited,” he said.

He has already made a significant impact, getting hits in each of his first five games, including a home run. Through six games, he had seven hits, five runs batted in and three runs scored.

Ballou started his professional career in 2013 on the Nationals’ Class A Short-Season league team, the Auburn Doubledays. In 59 games there, he led the team in batting average (.294), on-base percentage (.405), doubles (14) and runs scored (33).

He ended that season by being called up to the Suns for six games and was retained by them in 2014 for 100 games. Though their season continues with Ballou now playing for Potomac, he still leads the Suns in runs scored (74), triples (9) and walks (47).

“Considering he’s only been in the minor league system for a little over a year and he’s already moved up a couple times, I think that’s pretty good,” Ballou’s father, William Ballou said.

Nansemond-Suffolk baseball coach David Mitchell said, “He’s obviously moved very quick.”

Mitchell did not coach Ballou during his time at NSA, but he has coached other professional players with the Peninsula Pilots and is well-acquainted with the standard progression.

“I would say that he’s about a year ahead of schedule,” Mitchell said, noting it would usually take a player three seasons to advance as far as Ballou has.

The coach highlighted Ballou’s .419 slugging percentage and .370 on-base percentage with the Suns this year.

“Those are excellent numbers,” Mitchell said. “So, offensively he’s had just a tremendous year and thus (was) called up to Potomac.”

Ballou said faith in God has been his key to continued success.

“The only thing you can really control is your attitude and your work ethic,” he said, and the rest he leaves to God.

Potomac Nationals manager Tripp Keister said Ballou has brought energy and speed at the top of the lineup, along with solid fielding skills.

“Isaac showed off his power potential with his first home run for us in a big 9th-inning spot off a quality closer the other day,” Keister said. “We are excited to have him as we enter the home stretch and prepare for playoffs.”

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