Chris Archer was the first person drafted straight out of Clayton High School to play professional baseball in the 5th round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians.
And since he was 17 years old, Archer has been working every day to fulfill his dream to one day play in the Major Leagues. Though Archer has put in the hard work since graduating from Clayton High School, he said he wouldnt be where he is without support from his family and friend Drew Hardee.
I never had anybody close to me tell me that I couldnt accomplish what I wanted to, Archer said. I guess Ive benefited from having great people around me. The foundation started with my parents, and [Hardee] taught me a lot about not only baseball, but about work ethic in general.
Im just surrounded by people who instill what it takes to be great.
Thanks to that core group of mentors, Archer has landed with the Durham Bulls, less than 45 minutes from his home in Clayton. After a trade sent Archer to the Tampa Bay Rays organization last January, he has become one of the top prospects in the minor leagues.
Archer said there is only one place he would rather be.
Being in Durham and being at the minor league level, the only thing that could be any better would be playing for the Rays, he said. To be able to play in my own backyard at the highest level of minor league baseball, its a very unique experience. But I want to get to the next step, and I feel confident that will happen soon.
As for this season, Archer has compiled a 4.81 ERA, but has come on strong in recent outings. In his last six starts, Archer has gone 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Archer leads the Bulls with 90 strikeouts on the season. If he can be consistent and throw strikes, he can be a big leaguer for a long time, Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. David Price and Jeremy Hellickson, we had those guys here, and he has the stuff to do what theyve done. He just needs to get to a point where he knows he can dominate this league.
With a shot at the majors within reach, Archer remembers where his journey started.
I know where my roots come from, Archer said. The reason Im playing baseball isnt to make money, its to impact someones life. I hope at some point this game will lead me to help somebody the same way that those around me have helped and motivated me to be the person I am today.