Twenty-six years elapsed before a major league baseball team drafted a player from Cedarville (Ohio) University.
That player, Spokane Indians starting pitcher David Ledbetter, held his place in school lore for two days, until another Yellow Jackets player was selected in the draft by the same team, the Texas Rangers.
Ledbetter gladly shared the spotlight with his Cedarville teammate, fellow pitcher Ryan Ledbetter, who happens to be his identical twin.
“You couldn’t have scripted that any better in a storybook,” said David, who was tabbed in the third round of last month’s draft.
“It was really fun to be drafted by the same team,” said Ryan, a 19th-round selection. “That alone was enough.”
The one downside to the story: Ryan was assigned to the Rangers’ Arizona Rookie League team rather than to Spokane of the short-season Class A Northwest League.
“We knew coming into it that we could be split up,” Ryan said. … “But if there was ever a time to split, it would be now. We can get our bearings and not just rely on each other.”
“We always say that the one thing that takes away from being a twin is you don’t have a strong knack or ability to develop such deep relationships with others, because you always have each other,” David said.
The twins already had experience being apart because David married Cedarville pharmacology student Elizabeth Douglass on Dec. 28.
“I met her in the first couple of days (at Heritage Christian in Indianapolis) and we started dating a month later,” David said.
Elizabeth’s best friend, Maddie Anderson, is engaged to Ryan. They, too, are planning a Dec. 28 wedding.
The twins, who are both right-handers in the 6-foot, 190-pound range, were born Feb. 13, 1992, in Fishers, Ind., to Ron and Sherrie Ledbetter. They attended Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers before transferring to Heritage Christian as juniors.
Both enrolled at Cedarville, although Ryan’s freshman baseball season was cut short by Tommy John surgery. Cedarville, which became an NCAA Division II school last year, hadn’t produced a drafted player since the nearby Cincinnati Reds selected Steve Hester in 1987. Texas scout Roger Coryell visited Cedarville early during the Ledbetters’ junior season and liked what he saw.
“We attended a predraft workout and loved the atmosphere,” David said. “It just felt like family. We were huge Rangers fans after that.”
David led all Division II pitchers last season with an average of 13.65 strikeouts per nine innings. He went 6-5 with a 3.15 earned-run average, just behind Ryan’s team-leading ERA of 3.05.
Ryan, a reliever in the Arizona Rookie League, said he needs more seasoning on the mound because, unlike David, he played part time in the infield in college.
After Wednesday’s win over Salem-Keizer, David is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.23 in 22 innings. He has struck out 20 and walked three. He is scheduled to pitch Tuesday during the second game of a three-game home series against Tri-City.
“I feel like I’m doing well now, but I’m just trying to be the best I can every day,” David said. “There are days where you’re going to stink. It’s how you handle those days that make you into a good pitcher or a bad pitcher.”
Through six games in Arizona, Ryan has an ERA of 2.89 in 91/3 innings, allowing just two hits. He has 10 strikeouts and five walks.
“It’s been 118 (degrees) in some games,” Ryan said. “It’s brutal and it hurts your eyes, but you stay loose easy.”
The twins hold out hope that they end up with the same team somewhere down the road.
“I don’t know what Texas has planned, but I know that whatever they choose to do I’ll back 100 percent,” David said.
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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