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A.J. Ellis
Position: Other
City/State: Lexington, Ky.
High School: Dunbar HS

When A.J. Ellis was recruited to Austin Peay two things stood out to the Governors coaching staff: he owned a great throwing arm and swung a potentially lethal bat.

But in all honesty, the APSU coaching staff really didn’t know what position he would play when he came to campus. At Lexington’s Paul Dunbar High School, Ellis pitched, caught and played first and in the outfield.

By the end of his freshman fall season, the coaching staff really liked what they saw from his bat. Although it was decided Ellis eventually would be a catcher, he was a hitter, first, and a first baseman, second.

As a result, he was first-team All-OVC that freshman season as a utility player, splitting his time between first base and designated hitter while batting .368. He also was named to the Louisville Slugger All-Freshman team.

As a sophomore, Ellis still was not a catcher; he played mostly first base, with some catching duties. He also was named first-team All-OVC first baseman after batting .335 with 10 home runs and 58 RBI.

Finally, he became nearly a full-time catcher as a junior. He batted .371, with nine home runs and 44 RBI. Again he was selected first-team All-OVC. In fact, he became the first player in OVC history to earn All-OVC at three different positions—utility, first base and catcher.

Entering his senior year, the Lexington, Ky., native was named by Baseball America as a “Player to Watch” in the Ohio Valley Conference as a member of its preseason all-conference team, Austin Peay’s sole representative. He didn’t disappoint. As a senior, Ellis, who was voted team captain, batted .337 with seven home runs 38 RBI. Again, he earned first-team All-OVC again as a catcher, becoming only the fifth player in league baseball history to earn first-team All-OVC all four seasons.

He left Austin Peay as its all-time career hits leader (263)—17 more than the closest pursuer—and ranked among the top 10 in 14 total categories. Along the way, he also developed into one of the league’s top throwing catchers, literally shutting down the opposition’s running game.

In addition, the popular and highly-respected Ellis was named the 2003 Male Joy Award recipient as the most valuable senior athlete.

A public relations major, he also was an Academic All-America nominee.

But he has yet been able to apply professionally his academic background. In fact, in June 2003, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Ellis in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

It began a minor league odyssey that took him to such minor leagues stops as Albany, Ga., (Rookie ball), Vero Beach, Fla., (Class A, two seasons), Jacksonville, Fla. (Class AA, two seasons) and finally Las Vegas, Nev., (Class AAA) last season.

In 2007, his professional baseball career started to come together. Twice, he was named Southern League Player of the Week, including the season’s final week.

That led to the Class AAA promotion last spring. Ellis batted a career-best .321, with 17 doubles, four triples and four home runs while driving home 59 runs in 84 games. His on-base percentage (.436) was even more impressive. For a second straight year he finished the season strongly. Over his final 10 games, Ellis batted .517, with five doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. He earned a berth to Class AAA All-Star game in Louisville.

In September, Ellis got the call–the Los Angeles Dodgers brought him to the major league leagues and he played in four games, starting the season finale. It capped a serendipitous year that also saw his wife, the former Cindy Wall (who played volleyball and tennis at APSU), give birth to their first child, Ainsley Kate, May 8, 2008.

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