Motivation is never an issue for Myles Straw.
For the past six years, all the Quad-Cities outfielder with the .324 batting average has had to do is think back to his freshman year of high school when he was cut from the baseball team.
“Too short. Too small. Not good enough,’’ Straw said. “That’s what they said. I was probably like 5-foot, 100 pounds at the time, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t play the game.’’
Straw had already developed a passion for the sport and had been part of an AAU national championship team when he was 12 years old.
The Bradenton, Florida, native wasn’t going to let his career come to an end based on one opinion, so he turned that negative situation into something that motivates him to this day.
“At the time, what happened really pissed me off but I used it to get a lot better. I used it to get bigger and stronger and make certain that getting cut from a team would never happen again,’’ Straw said.
That proved to be the case. Straw returned to the roster the following year at Braden River High School and went on to compete at St. Johns River State College.
The decision to be part of a tradition-rich junior college program in Palatka, Florida, a city with a population just over 10,000, was a calculated move by Straw.
“I wanted to go to a place where the only distraction was going to be baseball and the chance to work on my game,’’ Straw said. “I could have went to schools in larger cities, but I wanted a good baseball program in a good place where I could focus on becoming a better player. It was the right situation for me.’’
His development there led him to being a 12th-round selection of the Astros organization in the 2015 draft.
Not bad for a player who was once told he wasn’t good enough to play freshman ball in high school.
“I turned that situation around and made it work for me,’’ Straw said. “I used it to motivate. It still fires me up, gets me going.’’
That fire has helped Straw provide a spark for Quad-Cities since his arrival in the Midwest League on May 19.
Rated as the fastest player in Houston’s 2015 draft class, Straw has helped the River Bandits defensively with his speed in the outfield and at the plate where he typically fills the leadoff position on Quad-Cities manager Omar Lopez’s lineup card.
Straw has hit .359 since June 1, raising his season batting average to .324 through 39 games with the River Bandits.
The leadoff position is a role Straw is comfortable with, having filled it at every level throughout his career.
“It gives you a chance to set a tone and I do like that. I’m real happy with the way everything fits together here,’’ Straw said.
“We have a lot of good hitters in the bottom half of the order who are doing a good job of getting on base, forcing the first baseman to hold runners on. That opens some more holes for me to slip a ball through when I’m batting.’’
Straw has gone hitless in only seven of the 29 games he has played since June 1 and through 39 games, his 14 RBI already tops the 13 he collected in 58 games a year ago as part of Greeneville’s Appalachian League championship team.
He ranks fourth among current River Bandits with 11 stolen bases in 18 attempts, one area Straw continues to work toward growth.
“I want and need to steal more bases and I need to steal them at a higher percentage,’’ Straw said. “I’m working to pick better pitches to run on, working on getting better leads and figuring out how to use all of that to my advantage.’’
That’s all part of what Straw continues to work to accomplish a little over one year into the start of his pro career.
“I feel fortunate to be part of an organization that puts a lot of emphasis on development and where there is a priority put on instruction and teaching,’’ Straw said. “You come out every day to work and get better and when results happen, you know that the work you’re putting in is paying off.’’
And for Straw, motivation is not an issue.