Micah Coffey might just be a freshman in college, but he’s already got one Major League at-bat under his belt.
Coffey, a Batavia alumnus now playing baseball at Minnesota, got to hit in the eighth inning of an exhibition game the Gophers played earlier this year against the Minnesota Twins, part of the Twins’ spring training schedule.
Coffey pinch hit and flew out after swinging at the first pitch, but it’s an experience he won’t forget any time soon. Coffey went up against Michael Tonkin, who’s not currently on the Twins’ active roster but pitched in 34 big league games over the past two seasons.
Not many college freshmen can say they’ve faced that.
“That was unbelievable,” Coffey said. “I was pretty much in awe that whole day. And to be able to get an at-bat and get a little taste of ‘The Show’ was a really fun experience and something I’ll never forget.”
The trip the Gophers took down to Fort Myers, Florida, was an incredible experience for Coffey. In addition to getting a taste of what Major League spring training is like, he said the team got to meet Torii Hunter, the Twins outfielder who’s been an MLB mainstay for much of the current Gophers’ lives.
“That whole day was just incredible; walking around a big league field and just watching how big leaguers go about their business was something that was fun,” Coffey said, “and you can kind of learn from that as to how you go about your business on the field every day. That whole experience in general was just incredible. The facilities that we were in, the game itself and getting to see the big leaguers do their thing was a really fun experience.
“When we were under the field taking [batting practice] before the game, and Torii Hunter came walking in and introduced himself and just kind of hung out with us a little while. So that was really sweet for him to do that, to just walk in and make it seem like it was no big deal to be around these kids. A lot of my teammates are from Minnesota, so they grew up huge Twins fans, so that was a really cool thing for a lot of the guys.”
Although the game against the Twins stands out, Coffey, an infielder, said it’s been a great freshman campaign so far.
He’s earned some playing time, appearing in 17 of the team’s 32 games and starting six of those. He’s hitting .256 in 43 at-bats.
“It’s been a blast,” he said. “It’s been a big learning process, this whole thing. It’s been fun to see what baseball’s like at the college level, kind of get my feet wet a little bit this year. Overall, I’m having a blast up here. It’s been a really fun start.”
“I didn’t play much the first three weeks of the season, and then I started kind of getting phased in here and there to where now I’m pretty much in the mix most weekends to get some amount of playing time. It’s definitely met my expectations. I knew I wasn’t going to come in and be ‘the guy’ every day. But it’s been fun to get a little bit of opportunity here and there to make an impact.”
As for the future, Coffey and the Gophers – who include senior outfielder Jake Bergren of St. Charles North – still have a good chunk of this season left to play. But Coffey has goals for beyond this season, as well.
“[My goals are] to get into that role where I’m playing every day and to where I have a bigger impact on the field every day. But also to keep learning, too. Never stop learning about the game and studying about the game,” Coffey said. “Just to keep working, keep working with these guys and keep pushing ourselves to go forward, make an impact in the Big Ten and also win Big Ten championships.”
• Vinnie Duber writes the weekly On Campus column on area athletes competing in college. If you have a column idea, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.