Milbrath begins big league dreams

SPRINGFIELD – After an exhausting last couple of weeks filled with lots of decision making, Springfield native Jordan Milbrath can finally relax and do what he does best – and that’s pitching a baseball.

It’s something he’s done his whole life, but now Milbrath will be earning a paycheck doing so. Milbrath signed a professional contract to play in the Cleveland Indians’ organization on Monday, thus ending his college career at Augustana one year before he was going to graduate.

Milbrath’s minor league journey now begins in unfamiliar territory. He will play for the Indians’ Rookie League team, the Arizona Indians, in Goodyear, Arizona. The team is in the Arizona League and plays in the Central Division.

Milbrath, a right-handed pitcher, was drafted by the Indians on June 8 in the 35th round (1,041st overall). After weighing his options for more than two weeks, he picked to follow the path so few get to.

“It happened so quickly,” Milbrath said, who was playing for the Rochester Honkers in the Northwoods League this summer. “We were actually up in Thunder Bay for two days and then we were going to go to Alexandria. I talked to the advisor and he asked if I still wanted to play [for the Indians] and we reached a deal. I got picked up in Alexandria, had to get some stuff done [in Springfield] and got down here Tuesday.”

He will have a physical within the next day or two and then he should be ready to play. He’s hoping to get his first action within the next week and he isn’t sure what his role will be yet with the team.

What he does know is that the facility is like nothing he’s ever played at before. He was in awe of what the Indians had to offer at the Rookie League level.

“I’m not used to it,” he said with a laugh. “I mean, everything is so well taken care of down here. There’s little grass, and they keep the grass perfect on the field. It’s so hot down here all the time that it’s hard to have a lawn. But these guys keep it pretty nice and we have about six or seven facilities and we practice every day.

“The facilities are awesome down here, it’s something I’m not used to but it’s kind of nice,” he added.

After signing his contract on Monday, Milbrath flew down to Phoenix and was immediately brought to the stadium where his team plays. He met some of his new teammates, who are all either in their first or second year of playing professional baseball, and watched his team play Tuesday night. He will be issued his uniform after he passes his physical.

The Rookie League season lasts until late August, so he’ll be in Arizona all summer, unless he gets moved up in the organization.

Milbrath can now concentrate on playing baseball. It’s a dream come true for the 2010 Springfield High School graduate and he decided now was the time to go for it all.

“I had a lot of support from the community, it’s something that doesn’t come along very often and I figured it would be better for me to give myself a chance now and give myself more of a shot, versus trying to go later and work on improving my stuff,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll even have a chance again next year.”

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