Ralston Cash knows he could work himself into a frenzy with apprehension thinking about the start of his professional baseball career, but he also knows that would be completely counterproductive.
For Cash, a recent Lakeview Academy graduate and second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’s just throwing all the uncertainty that will be revealed in the coming days with his assignment to the team’s rookie league program in suburban Phoenix, into his faith.
“I know God has blessed me with a bigger stage to be on now and I want to be the best example for others possible,” Cash said. “It’s amazing the wonders God can work in your life.
“I know he has me in his hands.”
The last details to be ironed out for Cash is the logistics of his contract offer, which by his own accounts could gross upward of $500,000 for the life of the contract. However, don’t expect him to be going crazy with his new found nest egg: with the exception of a 2005 GMC Diesel truck, the rest will go into the hands of a money manager.
Cash, a hard-throwing right hander, expects the contract to be finalized by the end of the week, which will signal his departure for rookie league and the final two months of the season in Arizona. After that, he’ll return to his parents’ home in Cornelia, before leaving again for an instructional league in the fall.
“I hope to get everything out of this experience with my first summer playing and learn what I still need to learn about professional baseball,” Cash added. “I’m just excited to be in this position and go to a new location and help glorify God.”
At this age, most kids his age are just learning to do laundry without ruining their clothes and cook without burning their meals before heading off to college. As for Cash, he just take this as a sign from above that this is the journey he’s supposed to be making.
Cash also witnessed his own cousin, Ethan Martin, go through the same transition as a first-round selection by the Dodgers in 2008.
“It’s interesting to think that Ralston just graduated from high school on May 21 and now he’s getting ready to go off to start his pro career,” Lakeview Academy coach Deuce Roark said. “But he’s got a great family to support him through this transition in his life.
“And he knows I’m only a phone call away.”
Going off on his own is just the latest of many chapters that Cash has entered into in his life so far. He’s endured the death of his mother in a car crash when he was 3, then the car crash in the fall of 2008 that could have easily taken his own life.
Then Cash made one of the biggest transformations he says when he re-dedicated his life to Christ on Dec. 22, 2009 at a Christmas Fellowship of Christian Athletes retreat.
He says that experience sharpened his faith and has become the cornerstone of his life and how he interacts with others.
“We really hope that Ralston just continues to surround himself with Godly people,” said Lakeview assistant coach John Simpson. “He’s really grown up a lot during his senior year here at Lakeview.
“I believe that he’s ready to take this next step.”
Simpson believes that the rookie league stop will be a good transition for Cash to learn the ropes of playing against a higher level of competition, while also acclimating himself to playing in front of larger crowds and traveling from town to town.
The other side of playing professionally is living on your own, planning meals and budgeting money with the $1,100 monthly stipend players receive for expenses.
“I’ll probably be eating macaroni and cheese most of the time,” Cash said. “I’m really exciting about finding a new church to get involved with and a bible study group.
“I want to be the best influence I can be for my teammates to see.”
Cash is now the Dodgers’ highest draft pick they are trying to sign. Los Angeles’ first-round draft selection, Zach Lee, has decided to go ahead with his scholarship offer to LSU where he will be a quarterback for the football program in the fall and play baseball in the spring.
After the Arizona rookie league season ends for Cash in August, he will have two months home before shipping back out to the instructional league in October. According to Simpson, that will be more of an evaluation process to see which players are ready to move up to Single-A and Double-A for the ensuing season.
Now, all Cash lacks is his name on a contract to begin living a dream that most boys dream of when they’re little kids.
“We’ve known as coaches that playing baseball is what Ralston always wanted to do,” Simpson added. “He’s about to be able to start fulfilling that dream.
“One thing about Ralston, is that I tell him I’ll always love him whether he plays in the majors for a long time or ends up being a coach and a teacher ... we’ve seen him grow into a great young man.”