That little boy, who is now 20-year-old Ryan Aper, was sitting in
his apartment, surrounded by parents Terry Aper and Jennifer
Dalrymple as well as other family and friends, when he was waiting
to hear his name called in the Major League Baseball First-Year
At first Aper was unsure of exactly who called his
name, but his mom would tell him that the Miami Marlins had selected
him with the 172nd overall pick in the sixth round. He had
anticipated being chosen by the Red Sox as the 173rd pick, due to a
phone call he had received earlier in the day from the Boston
Upon learning he was drafted by the Miami Marlins, he was filled
with emotion. The first memory that popped into Aper's head took
place at the little ballpark (Lehn & Fink Park) near the Lincoln
Dairy Bar, where it all began. He was in fact that little boy
smiling all the way back to the dugout.
Aper's career began on that little ball field, and at age 10 he
became a member of the Lincoln Heat summer baseball team playing
under coach Jeff Nelson. His junior high years were spent playing
baseball for coach Randy Ely and the Chester-East Lincoln Panthers.
Aper's next step was Lincoln Community High School, where he
played for Pat Hake and Andy McDonald. "I was blessed to have two
really good coaches in high school," Aper said.
He was a three-year letter winner at LCHS and a two-time
all-Central State Eight selection. Aper hit .512 his senior season,
holds the school record for most career wins as a pitcher, and
earned various honors throughout his high school career.
His summers during that time were occupied by playing with the
Midwest Stallions traveling baseball team. Playing for the
Stallions, he developed several close friendships with his
As a 2011 graduate of LCHS, his stellar senior season caught the
attention of many area colleges. However, he chose Lincoln Land
Community College in Springfield.
"I wanted to go there and I definitely wanted to beat those top
teams and help LLCC make a name for themselves," he said. "They
always had a good baseball program, and the guys that I played with
(Stallions) definitely influenced me to go there."
Aper and eight of his Stallions teammates all became LLCC Loggers
playing for coach Ron Riggle.
Aper played center field for the Loggers in his two years at
Lincoln Land and was an NJCAA Division II All-American twice. This
past season at LLCC, he hit .462, with 17 home runs, 12 triples, 82
runs and 96 hits. In addition, his speed on the base paths allowed
him to steal 52 bases. He earned all those statistics in 58 games
with the Loggers.
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Next, a lifetime of hard work was about to pay off for the
young man from Lincoln. Last Friday he became the Loggers'
highest draft pick in school history when the Miami Marlins
chose him as the 172nd pick.
Even though Aper had committed to Division I Middle Tennessee
State University, he had a very important decision to make.
"Honestly, until draft day, until my name was called, that's when
I had to make my decision. I really had to weigh my options and talk
to my family a lot about what would be the best situation for me to
be in, and it just so happened that the major leagues was going to
be a good decision for me. They (Marlins) gave me a great
opportunity, and it would have taken a lot of me to turn it down,"
He continued: "No matter where I would have went, whether it be
the sixth round or the 46th round, it would of taken a lot of me to
turn it down. It put my family in a good position, and I feel like
I'm in a good position to go make a name for myself at the next
The next level being in Batavia, N.Y., for the Miami Marlins'
short-season Class A affiliate, the Batavia Muckdogs. The Muckdogs
play in the prestigious New York Penn League. Aper's first
professional baseball game is June 17 against the Washington
Nationals affiliate, the Auburn Doubledays.
As friends and family began to arrive at Aper's house on Monday
evening, he took a deep breath and said: "You just got to take a
step back for a second and realize the opportunities you've been
given, and thank God for everything you've been given. It definitely
brought my family close to me and let them know that I care about
them a lot and that I appreciate the support. The entire town of
Lincoln -- I mean, so many people, people that I haven't even talked
to in a long time -- have reached out to me in the last couple days,
and I hope everybody knows that I really do appreciate that.
Aper has been working very hard and will continue to work hard
toward his goal of being a Major League Baseball player. In an area
where the majority of baseball fans root for the Cardinals or Cubs,
Ryan Aper is quickly transforming the 217 into Miami Marlins fans.
[By CADY LOWERY]