Hey everyone. Thanks for checking out my first blog post ever. I’m excited to keep you guys updated and I enjoy writing, so this will fun for me.
The purpose of this blog is to share how life is going both on and off the field. The idea first came to me back in May before my life got really busy. I was thinking it would be cool to keep track of the places I’d be going and the things I’d be doing. Later, after the draft and after I’d been in Arizona for a few days, I was watching an interview between President Obama and Derek Jeter on The Players’ Tribune. Jeter was explaining to President Obama how one of the things he wished he would’ve done earlier in his career was journaling his experiences. My life may not be as exciting as Derek Jeter’s life in pro ball was, but I like the idea of keeping a journal of my experiences, not only to keep you all in the loop, but to look back on some day.
Come back every few weeks to catch a new post. To kick this thing off though, let me catch you up on the last few months…
If we back-track three months to the day, it would be May 8. It was Mother’s Day, which consisted of lunch at Outback Steakhouse with my parents and brother, followed by moving out of the apartment where I spent my junior year and moving into the dorms on campus for the conference tournament. We lost the first two games of the tournament, and in one day my time at Cornerstone University was over. I was in sort of a state of depression for a couple days after the season was over. I was not ready to be done with college. The three years I spent at Cornerstone were the best years of my life.
May 12 was my 21st birthday, which I celebrated downtown Grand Rapids with some close friends. Here’s a picture, featuring my buddies Danny and Sonny, that I don’t remember taking:
The rest of May was spent hanging out with friends, golfing, playing plenty of Call of Duty, and staying fresh for pre-draft workouts.
I had the opportunity to work out in front of the Reds, Tigers, Dodgers, and, of course, the Padres. It was awesome pitching on the field at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and Comerica Park in Detroit. The Dodgers workout was a lot of fun because they brought me in for a game the night before the workout.
Dodger Stadium is one of a kind. The atmosphere during the game was incredible and the seat they gave me was nice too.
Interestingly, I randomly ran into Nick Covello, a teammate of mine at Cornerstone, while at the Dodgers game.
Two months ago was draft week. I was expecting to get the call on day two of the draft. I spent that day watching the broadcast with some family and a close family friend. We were all excited and nervous. My advisor called me in the eighth round saying the Padres wanted to sign me for a little under slot value. Of course I said I would do it. Three or four minutes later this happened:
I spent the rest of that night and the following day attempting to keep up with my exploding phone and doing a couple of interviews for local news stations. Two days later, I was on a plane destined for Peoria, AZ, the Padres’ home for spring training and rookie ball. Then on Monday, June 14, I signed my contract and began my professional baseball career.
The first thing I had to adjust to in Arizona was the heat. It reached 120° during one of our first workouts. Other than that, it’s been a pretty smooth transition. I think it was definitely God’s providence bringing me here to Peoria. Seriously though, out of all the places I could end up, I happened to get placed in the same city where my college baseball coach, who had just retired following the college season, moved just a couple weeks before me.
Dave Mitroff, me at Cornerstone.
It’s been a blessing having the Mitroffs here. They’ve taken me out to dinner and to church, they come to games and let me use their car up until a couple days ago. There is no doubt in my mind that God had this all planned out.
On June 25th, my brother, Aaron, got married. I was able to fly back home for four days and had the privilege of being the best man in the wedding. It was an awesome weekend back home with family and friends, and the wedding was perfect.
The evening I flew back home from the wedding, I made my professional debut. I threw 1.1 innings against the AZL Dodgers, and recorded my first career strikeout against the first batter I faced.
As of today (Monday, Aug. 8), I’ve thrown in 12 games, including two starts. It’s definitely a step up from college ball. I’ve learned that you can’t get away with mistake pitches, and when you do make a mistake, you better make an immediate adjustment or you’re gonna get tattooed. I’m not doing as great as I’d like to be, but I’m adjusting to the new level of difficulty. For all you stats lovers, you can check out my full stat line on MiLB.com by searching for the AZL Padres.
The AZL is the Arizona Rookie League. Rookie ball teams are made up of mostly rookies (duh), the occasional player on rehab assignment, and a lot of young international players. There is a lot of raw talent here. A good amount of the hitters are free swingers that can crush a fastball, regardless of velocity. A good amount of the pitchers, especially the non-college guys, throw gas but struggle with command. The AZL is the place where these kinds of players adjust to professional ball and develop their craft before being placed on a minor league affiliate. It’s a good starting point, and most fresh draftees get sent to rookie ball to start for at least a few days.
Our team has a pretty good rapport, even despite the language barrier. Everyone gets along well and it’s a pretty loose environment. Staying loose is so important in this game, so it’s really nice having coaches and teammates that can joke around and have a good time. Of course, when it’s game time, it’s all business.
Things are good off the field too. I live in an apartment across from the Seattle Mariners’ half of the Peoria Sports Complex—the Mariners’ facilities are on the south side of the complex, and the Padres’ facilities are on the north side. It’s a two-minute drive, eight-minute bike ride, or 20 minute walk to the clubhouse every day. I’ve done all three. I recently bought a bike from Wal-Mart since I had to return the car to the Mitroffs. It’s only been three days since I gave the car back, and, man, do I miss that thing. It was definitely a blessing being able to drive around wherever I wanted.
I’m a routine-oriented guy. I do the same things pretty much every day. I feel like most people would go insane doing the same four things every day, but I enjoy it. We have the mornings off, and we don’t have to be at the clubhouse until 2:00 p.m. every day. In the mornings, I usually wake up, eat breakfast, play some Call of Duty or watch Netflix, head over to Starbucks for a coffee, grab some lunch, then head to the field. It’s also nice having mornings off because it allows for me to go to church on Sundays. Once I get to the field, I normally head into the weight room for activation, where I do some foam rolling, hip mobility work, band work to get my shoulders warmed up, and Plyocare throws to loosen my throwing arm and keep it fresh. On days after I throw, I lift immediately after activation. Usually around 3:30-4:15 p.m., we have a pitcher stretch and throwing program, occasionally followed by team defense or PFPs. Then we have games at 7:00 p.m. Days are pretty long; I usually don’t get back to my apartment until 11:00 p.m. or later.
We do have every fifth day off, which is nice. Off days usually consist of shopping at the outlets in Glendale, going to TopGolf in Scottsdale, seeing a movie, hitting happy hour at one of the local bars, or just sitting around the apartment doing nothing.
The past three months have been very busy and very fun. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to chase my dreams in baseball. But I need to remember that it’s only by the grace of God that I’m here, and that my identity doesn’t lie in my ability on the baseball field, but in Christ. Reflecting this is a constant struggle.
I’m also thankful for all of the support I’ve got back home. It’s awesome coming from a small town because I feel like the whole town is behind me.