Prep Baseball Report

Q&A with Vanderbilt commit Drake Fellows

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Director – Illinois/Wisconsin

Drake Fellows (Joliet Catholic, 2016) recently made his verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-3, 183-pound RHP is currently ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 10 overall. We recently caught up with Fellows and talked about how his recruiting process evolved into his commitment to Vanderbilt.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Fellows: I really didn’t have expectations at the beginning of the process because I really didn’t know what to expect. One of my first visits was to Michigan and it was really cool. They walk you around the campus and tell you every last thing there is to know about the school. They make you feel like it’s all about you so that was cool. After visiting a few schools I realized they all were like that so it would come down to what school had the entire package that I was looking for and where I could see myself in three years. In the beginning it was difficult because I did like quite a few of them but in the end I knew it was Vanderbilt.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you? 

Fellows: There was talk of schools interested in me for a while but it wasn’t until the summer/fall of this year when it really started.  It really heated up after going to Florida for the Perfect Game USA WWBA Underclass Championships in October. The game I pitched in against Marucci Elite did a lot for me.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Fellows: Not really for me, but for my mom it did. But she didn’t hold me back on that and really wanted me to make the choice that was the best fit for me. I thank my parents for that because they didn’t hold me back to choose a school that was convenient for them. They wanted me to choose a school for me.

PBR: Where did Vanderbilt first see you? How did your relationship develop with them? 

Fellows: They saw me pitch in Florida at the Perfect Game USA WWBA Underclass Championships tournament. They reached out to my Coach Rich Ruffolo. Coach Rich has been a huge part of my recruiting process. He has given me every opportunity and put me in all the right situations to give me the success I’ve had this year. I am where I am today because of him.

PBR: What do you like most about Vanderbilt and what were the key factors in making your decision? 

Fellows: The key factors in my decision making were: academics, good competition, and weather. Vanderbilt has all three things I wanted at a college level. Coach Corbin really had an effect on my decision as well. 

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?   

Fellows: I visited quite a few before I made my decision - Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, Wichita State, Iowa, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Vanderbilt. I had it narrowed down to three at the end – Louisville, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt before I made my final decision. There was also interest from Ole Miss, Virginia Tech and LSU but I did not visit those three schools.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were an elite player and became serious about taking your game to the next level? 

Fellows: When I started playing with the Future based out of the Chicago area. The Future team always had top players in the Chicagoland area and for them to invite me to play with them was an honor. I knew at that point I would play with the best of the best and only have the opportunity to get better.

PBR: What is your best attribute as a baseball player and how does that transfer onto the field for your team? 

Fellows: Whether we are winning or losing, I try to acknowledge every good play an infielder or outfielder makes for me when I’m pitching to be sure they know they made a great play. I feel in doing that it not only gives them a little “kudos” while possibly changing the vibe of the game.  My coach Mark (Dalesandro) always would tell us “never disrespect the game; it should always be played the right way”.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Fellows: Never stop working for your dream. Stay focused, don’t ever lose sight of your goal and you will get there. Everyone is always watching so you should always be composed on and off the field regardless if the game is going good or bad. Your attitude can make you or break you.

PBR: What do you do in the offseason to keep yourself in baseball shape and prepare for the upcoming season? 

Fellows: I’m working all year round. I bat every week at ESP with Kevin Sullivan. My coach (Mark Dalesandro) is one of the owners at ESP. He has also been a huge part of my development through the years. He has coached me since I was seven years old when I first started travel baseball. His son Nick Dalesandro is one of my good friends and we have played ball together since then and are now are at JCA together. I owe a lot to Coach Mark. He’s family. 

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel Joliet Catholic Academy will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Fellows: I think our team will be good this year. JCA already has some great players on varsity, Nick Dalesandro being one of them, and with a lot of good talent coming up from the sophomore team. My goal is to do my best out there and hopefully get some wins for the team.  Hoping for a repeat of last year and JCA takes home another State Championship.

Fellows added, “I really want to acknowledge my coaches Rich Ruffolo and Mark Dalesandro. Both of them through the years have helped me achieve my goal in furthering my baseball career. They mean a lot to me and I really wouldn’t be where I am today without their help. They treat me like their own son and I really appreciate everything they do for me.”

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