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2002 First-Year Player Draft - Player Profile
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The Lord of the (Diamond) Ring
By Sandy Burgin
MLB.com

 PROFILE: ROYCE RING
school position video
  San Diego St   LHP   56K | 300K
bt ht wt dob class
  L/L   6-0   220   12-21-80   SR
comment
Solid, muscular frame, similar to Mike Stanton. Powerful, quick arm. Sneaky quick, live fastball. Heavy fastball that occasionally explodes last 10 feet. Deceptive circle change. Pit bull competitor. Very confident, wants ball now.
SAN DIEGO - He has been called the Rolls-Royce of college closers ... The Lord of the (Diamond) Ring.

Royce Ring is all that and maybe more.

The 6-0, 215-pound left-handed junior reliever for San Diego State University may well be a first-round draft pick in next week's First-Year Player Draft.

When he was a senior and the team MVP at Monte Vista High in Spring Valley, Calif., he was selected in the 41st round by the Cleveland Indians. However, with a fastball that only topped 87 mph he decided to go to college in his hometown of San Diego and work at honing his game.

And he certainly did that.

As a sophomore at San Diego State, Ring posted a 6-2 record with a 1.19 ERA with nine saves in 32 appearances. This year as a junior, Ring went 5-1 with a school record 17 saves while posting a 1.83 ERA. He struck out 55 and walked just 13 in 39.1 innings. Opposing teams batted .204 against him.

Ring, who was selected for the USA Baseball National Team last summer, was named to the All-Mountain West Conference First-Team this year.

However, the one thing Ring and his teammates wanted the most -- not only for themselves, but retiring coach Jim Dietz -- they didn't achieve ... getting to the NCAA Tournament. Despite winning more than 40 games (43-22) and the Mountain West Conference regular season title by four games, the Aztecs fell short in the MWC tournament losing two games to Brigham Young in the championship round.

"Our ultimate goal was to make the NCAAs, and for that I think we're all disappointed," Ring said. "I couldn't really think about the draft during the season because all my focus was on helping the team win games and win our conference and get to the NCAAs.

"On a personal level we'll just have to see what happens (in the draft)," Ring said. "I probably have played my last game with San Diego State, but it has been a great experience and put me in the position where I am today."

2002 First-Year Player Draft
JUNE 4-5 | NEW YORK CITY
Draft order | Rules | FAQ

FULL COVERAGE:
Bullington goes first
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Complete Draft coverage

A lot of Ring's accomplishments over the last two years can be traced directly to his weight loss between his freshman and sophomore year at SDSU. As a freshman, he was just another arm in the bullpen, where he went 2-2 with a 6.07 ERA striking out 34 and walking 17 in 29.2 innings. But in the offseason he worked hard to lose weight. The trimmed-down Ring consequently added a few miles to his fastball.

"I was about 235 when I first started out at San Diego State," said Ring. "I then put on 15 pounds and got up to 250."

"We knew he had a lot of potential," said Dietz. "The thing we worried about was him putting on weight. No one got on him about a proper diet. As a pitcher it's critical. You don't have as much mass in your chest to throw around. He lost 25-30 pounds. It put a lot on his fastball."

Ring agreed with his coach.

"It helped with my fastball," Ring said. "Every year you mature and get stronger, maybe a little taller. I just worked really hard. I'm throwing consistently harder, a lot harder. I find now that I can maintain my weight since I have a regular routine in the gym and in the weight room. And because of that I have maintained my consistency on the mound."

While consistency is an essential attribute of a closer so too is confidence. And Ring is certainly not lacking in that area.

His confidence was instilled in him at an early age by his mother, Lori Ring, who told him he could accomplish anything he wanted and that he was always the best at everything he did.

Ring's father was killed in a motorcycle race when Royce was 15 months old. And Ring grew up under the supportive and protective watch of Lori and his paternal grandfather, Roger Ring.

"My mom has been my biggest fan. She played catch with me from as long as I can remember. She has been both father and mother to me and very supportive in everything I've done."
-- Royce Ring
"My mom has been my biggest fan," said Ring. "She played catch with me from as long as I can remember. She has been both father and mother to me and very supportive in everything I've done."

Roger died in January and Royce could be seen pointing to the sky during the games after a save. While he makes it clear that he is pitching for his team and for his future, but there is more on his mind sometimes.

"This season has been kind of for him," Ring said. "I kind of feel like I owe it to him. He was there for me my whole life."

Like most closers, Ring thrives on pressure and looks forward to it.

"I was a starting pitcher in high school," Ring said. "But my mentality is to go after it. I love pressure situations of being a closer, I feel very comfortable with that."

"Older people might look at him and wonder if he's a weirdo. You would be surprised what people ask me. He doesn't want to be John Rocker. He wants to be a Royce Ring. Come in with enthusiasm, but not of this macho stuff; come in and shut somebody down."
-- SDSU coach Jim Dietz
And like some relief pitchers, such as the San Diego Padres' Trevor Hoffman, Ring has his own "song." When Ring came into home games, Metallica's "Sad But True" would blare over the loudspeakers at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

"I use the music to pump myself up, but not too much," Ring says. "I don't want to go out there out of control. It gives me more confidence. If I don't have any adrenaline going, I'm not into the game, and I'm not going to pitch as well as I should. I think it pumps up the crowd a little bit too."

"Older people might look at him and wonder if he's a weirdo," Dietz says. "You would be surprised what people ask me. He doesn't want to be John Rocker. He wants to be a Royce Ring. Come in with enthusiasm, but not of this macho stuff; come in and shut somebody down."

Sad But True, Ring doesn't have control over who might draft him, although he said he would like to be able to stay in his hometown of San Diego "so that mom and my friends and family could see me pitch."

Sandy Burgin covers the Padres for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.