Life is Bliss: Troup alum Ryan Bliss is on a tear with the Sod Poodles in 2023

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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Ryan Bliss is on a tear. The Troup High graduate and former Auburn Tiger is dominating the Texas League with the Amarillo Sod Poodles, winning two straight Texas League player of the month awards to start the season.

“I started off hot and what I’m most proud of is that I’ve been able to keep it up for two months now,” Bliss said. “After the second month that I got player of the month, nobody could call it a fluke. That is when I realized I deserve to be here.”

Through 52 games, Bliss is hitting .366 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. Bliss is making plays everywhere on the field, including on defense where he has slotted in as the second baseman.

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Bliss made no major changes to his game in the offseason but has a much better mental approach to the game.

“My swing is in a good spot right now,” Bliss said. “I have the right mental approach, and I’m seeing the ball really well right now.”

The confidence that he exudes out of every pore in his body has not always been there. Bliss went through a self-described slump last year and was not pleased with the way he played with single A ball club Hillsboro where he struggled to hit the ball and finished with a .214 batting average in 37 games played.

“From my perspective, it was a pretty bad year,” Bliss said. “I was able to turn it on toward the end of last year, and I was pleased with myself for not giving up and just kept grinding.”

To keep a positive mindset even in a slump is a learned trait for Bliss, but he is thankful for the lessons he learned last year.

“I don’t wish it to happen to anybody else, but I’m glad it happened when it did because I learned a lot about myself during those months,” Bliss said. “I still learned how to be a better teammate and got better on defense.”

While Bliss is a southern boy through and through, he has adapted to life out west. He spent most of 2021 in California, 2022 in Oregon and now resides in Texas as he suits up with the Sod Poodles. He gets some of that southern hospitality he has been missing in Texas, but understands the grind of minor league baseball will take him to many different locations on his journey.

“You sign up for this,” Bliss said. “You know going into this that you are probably going to go places that you’ve never even heard of.

“I embraced it. I know I’m traveling on the bus 10 hours a day, but I get to play baseball for a living and do it with my boys. I embrace it and love it so far.”

Like every young ball player, he hopes his next spot is the major leagues, but he is in no rush. Bliss just loves to have a bat or a glove in his hand, regardless of the size of the stadiums and how bright the lights are.

“This year I didn’t want to make it to Reno or the big leagues or anything like that,” Bliss said. “This year I was focused on having fun and being a good teammate.”

His advice to younger guys getting drafted right out of high school or jumping ship after a year or two in college: patience.

“It is hard work,” Bliss said. “You really have to love baseball to do this. At the end of the day, if you get a chance like this, don’t forget why you’re playing this game. You’re playing it for fun and realizing that has been one of the biggest game changers for me.”

The individual accolades are coming his way as he climbs up the Arizona Diamondbacks prospect board. But Bliss is not focused on individual success, his next short-term goal is simple: winning.

“Right now, I’m really focused on winning this first half with the boys, and we are one game back with 11 to go,” he said. “This is fun. This is what I signed up to play baseball for.”