Matt Milroy knows he has a unique opportunity. Not every 23 year old has a chance to travel the country to chase his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.
“It’s a dream that every little 8 year old wants to pursue and I have the opportunity to do so,” Milroy said. “I have wanted to do this since I was a little kid and I have a chance to make it a reality.”
The Batavia native was the Miami Marlins’ 11th round pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. After being a standout at both Marmion Academy and at the University of Illinois, Milroy took the opportunity he had always dreamed would come his way.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty has not reached his end goal of the big leagues just yet, but a recent promotion and All-Star appearance in the South Atlantic League sure looks like he is headed in the right direction.
“It’s just the next steppingstone to get to the big leagues,” Milroy said of his promotion to Advanced-A Jupiter earlier this summer. “I didn’t look at it as an awesome moment, just kind of the next step.”
Milroy started his minor league career in Jamestown, New York with the Short-A Jamestown Jammers in the New York-Pennsylvania League. After nine appearances with the club, going 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA, Milroy ran into trouble with the MLB drug testing policy.
Milroy tested positive for Methylhexeanamine, an ingredient in his pre-work out drink. He said he was unaware it was illegal but was suspended for 50 games.
“I kept my head up [during the suspension],” Milroy said, “It was nice to see the Marlins stuck with me during my suspension."
Milroy said he is “a better person today because of [the suspension]."
He returned with the Class-A Greensboro Grasshoppers and finished last season with something to prove.
“I did have something to prove," Milroy said. "I kept my head up through the whole thing. I had a great end to last year’s season. I wanted to prove I was the same pitcher or even better.”
Milroy started the 2014 season with the Grasshoppers and put up strong numbers. In 14 games and 63 innings, he struck out 87 batters while only walking 23 and posted a 2.56 ERA. That earned him a spot on the All-Star team as well as a promotion to the advanced-A Jupiter Hammerheads, in Jupiter, Florida.
Since moving to the next level of minor league ball, Milroy has noticed the difference and is 0-3 with an 8.80 ERA in 15 1/3 innings.
“It’s better competition, a little bit tighter zone,” Milroy said, “Got to get hitters out in the zone. You can’t strike everyone out …”
Milroy knows the road ahead is still long, but has insight to anyone who wonders what the minor league life is like.
“Just watch the movie Bull Durham," he said. "It’s not the glamorous life of the big leagues.”