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'I'm gonna find out how good I can be': WashU's Loutos puts career in coding on hold to chase dreams with Cardinals

"Yeah It's tough sometimes. But I can tell you the tough times here are way better than the tough times with the alternatives," the Cardinals prospect said.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When you graduate from the prestigious Washington University in St. Louis, you often have a number of options at your disposal once your college time is over.

That was the case for Ryan Loutos. But Loutos' options were just a bit different than most of his classmates.

Loutos discovered a passion for software engineering and coding in his sophomore and junior years at Washington University. And he could have made the decision to jump right into that lucrative career once college was over.

But then the St. Louis Cardinals came calling. 

Loutos, a native of the Chicago area, went 18-5 with 287 strikeouts in 230 innings on the mound in his WashU career, but still went undrafted.

RELATED: WashU graduate Ryan Loutos gave up much bigger paycheck to pursue career with Cardinals, and couldn’t be happier

However, the pro team in his college city saw something they liked in him, and he knew what the Cardinals meant in the most recent town he called home.

"I think being in St. Louis and being around Busch Stadium and the Cardinals... and just kind of what the Cardinals meant to the city and everything, I think it was very cool. And I'm getting a chance with the Cardinals, them being the only team that was calling after the draft to sign me. It was pretty cool being a local guy, too. Hopefully I can keep moving up and mean something to WashU students and SLU students and the city there especially being a guy who went to college there," Loutos said.

So far, things are going well for Loutos as he chases his dream.

He spent last year at the A level in Palm Beach, but this year he has moved quickly through High A and is now at AA in Springfield. In 12 games in Springfield, he has a sterling 2.00 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched.

Loutos said the experience he gained at WashU on and off the baseball field has helped him so far as a pro.

"The best part about Division III athletics is the balance you have between school and sports. So having that side of things I think made baseball a lot more challenging, but it also gave me that escape too and other things to focus on," Loutos said. "Being a professional baseball player now, your life is surrounded by the sport and it can be hard to get away. Where at WashU, although it was really stressful at times, it allowed you to have that escape from baseball sometimes especially when things weren't going well. Or vice-versa, baseball was that escape from school because school would really stressful a lot of times, too."

Even though Loutos could be sitting in a comfortable office making a nice salary coding instead of riding the minor league bus, he said this journey is more than worth it.

"I don't know if I'm going to be a hall of famer or if I'm gonna be stuck here the rest of my career. But I'm gonna find out how good I can be. That's my mentality with it. I've got the rest of my life to work. I'm now worried about coding right now in that capacity where I could be sitting at a desk right now. It's more like, so many people would rather be in my shoes. That's not the reason why you do it, for other people. It's more like I still want to be out here in the sun every day and playing the great game of baseball. Yeah It's tough sometimes. But I can tell you the tough times here are way better than the tough times with the alternatives," Loutos said.

The 23-year-old righty is still a few steps away from making it back to a St. Louis mound, but he does think about what it would feel like to realize his dream.

"Even thinking about it and visualizing what that's gonna feel like I get emotional. Because of all the work I've put in since I think I probably started taking baseball seriously when I was 13 or 14. You don't do the work only for that moment, you do it because there's other values in it, too. But I think I'm just so fortunate to even be where I am now. So even if I got there I'd be more fortunate in so many ways and just try to appreciate it. And appreciate all the people along the way that helped me get there. I get emotional even when I visualize it so I can't even imagine what that feeling would be like one day if I get there. So I've just gotta keep grinding and see what happens," Loutos said.

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