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Brad Mills is a rarity among professional baseball players, he has a degree in civil engineering.  Many pro baseball players are drafted from high school or after their junior year of college and most don't have a degree.  As Mills notes below many of those players who stay in school to complete their fourth year take a less challenging degree to compensate for the demands and the travel required for playing in a top flight baseball program.  Mills has made a very good start to his pro career and is among the Blue Jays top 30 prospects.  Mills has a 3.79 ERA in seven starts for Lansing, he has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and has more strikeouts than innings pitched, both positive signs. 

BB:  Were you drafted coming out of high school?

BM:  No, not at all.

BB:  So you were drafted twice, both times by the Jays.  Were you tempted the first time you were drafted?

BM:  A little bit but I was really set on finishing school so in the end it was a good decision to go back and finish my senior year there.

BB:  Was that you who wanted to finish school or your family?

BM:  No, it was me.  When I went to college I wasn't recruited to go play ball at college at all.  I went there for school and so once I got there I wanted to get it over with and then set out on this next phase.

BB:  What degree did you do?

BM:  Civil engineering.

BB:  Engineering, with the labs and the tutorials, that is a lot of work.

BM:  It is, it was.  I had some good friends that helped me out and who were real sympathetic to my situation with baseball so it was good to have some study buddies like that.

BB:  You must have had no free time once baseball season started.

BM:  I remember my freshman year, the very first time we travelled and the whole season, my grades took a hit because I just wasn't prepared for how much time I would be away from school.  I got used to it though and made adjustments.

BB:  I assume there wasn't many guys on your team taking those tougher degrees, was there?

BM:  There was a couple but a lot of guys who when they are recruited for baseball, they just figured out their major secondarily.

BB:  So when you were drafted as a senior you had no leverage with the Jays.

BM:  I knew I was going to sign and the Jays treated me fairly I was happy.

BB:  Did you know the Jays were going to pick you again?

BM:  I did not.  I was very happy, it obviously shows they like me, so I was happy but it was a surprise.

BB:  Last season you were injured mid-year was it a back injury?

BM:  Yes, I actually got hurt the last month of my college season and I got a cortisone shot to help me pitch through the playoffs but then when I signed within the first couple of weeks of getting to short season it flared up again and I had to take some time off to get it better.

BB:  No surgery though?

BM:  No, I think it was a pulled muscle they never really diagnosed it correctly, some people thought it might have been a rib thing, some a muscle in the back.  I took off some time for rest and it was fine.

BB:  were you able to pitch in the instructional league?

BM:  No I wasn't.  I was able to do a throwing program and get used to it.

BB:  You did get a couple of starts in 2007 to get a feel for it.

BM:  I did get to throw about twenty innings in Auburn but more importantly I got to get used to the lifestyle so when I got here it wasn't a new thing with travel and some of the long nights you have and everything so that was good from last year.

BB:  What were your goals coming into 2008?

BM:  To make every start, to stay healthy.  As far as on-field goals I didn't have many I felt if I just kept working that stuff would take care of itself but I feel if I stay on the field and make all my starts this year it will be a very productive season.  That's goal number one.

BB:  Are you working on any particular pitches?

BM:  They are trying to teach me a cutter right now, I never really had thrown anything like that, just fastball, curveball, change so I am trying to add a fourth pitch in there but it is real early yet.  I have only been trying it for a week now so it will probably be a couple of months before I'll get it down.

BB:  Did you expect to come to Lansing?

BM:  I just heard that most of the college guys were sent here and I knew there were a bunch of pitchers in the same situation so I expected to come here and it's been great.

BB:  Have you pitched in the cold weather before?

BM:  Not really, there was one time in college we were up in Washington (State) and it was pretty cold but nothing like this.  A couple of weeks ago we were in Iowa and it was snowing when I was on the mound.

BB:  Your motion has been described as herky-jerky and you hide the ball well is that something you try and do?

BM:  Not really,  I kinda found it in college, it wasn't that way in high school, it was a little smoother in high school but I found a rhythm in college and worked my way into the starters role there doing it.  It kinda just works, I have toned it down a little bit if you believe that, it used to be even more crazy but it works well, I don't throw the ball real hard so it hides the ball well and I am able to be deceptive with that.

BB:  There are probably not that many college graduates on baseball rosters or guys with advanced degrees.  Have you felt that at all?

BM:  Maybe a little bit.  If anything it gives me peace of mind being here, I don't really have to press myself, I can just let it happen, be relaxed, and work on my game here because I know that I don't have to make it to the big leagues to be OK in life.  So I can concentrate on this and give it my all because I know there is something waiting if it doesn't work out.

Batter's Box would like to thank Brad Mills for talking with us.

An Interview with A Civil Engineer (Brad Mills) | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 14 2008 @ 09:06 AM EDT (#185192) #
Mills is from the University of Arizona, a fine school.  UA alumni who have made it include Kenny Lofton and Trevor Hoffman.  I suppose that Mills would be happy with a career like that of alum Craig Lefferts.

It is interesting to hear that Mills is working on the cutter.  We'll see how that goes.

Nicely done, Gerry.

Mylegacy - Wednesday, May 14 2008 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#185221) #

The thing I love about this site is these interviews with prospects- great work.

Well, these interviews and the camaraderie with fellow Jay's fans. In addition to those two things the thoughts of so many well informed fans. Amongst the things I like about this site are these interviews, the camaraderie, the thoughts, our shared hatred of the evil empires and our fanatical devotion to the Pope!

(Apologies to Monty Python.)

hugo - Thursday, May 15 2008 @ 08:57 AM EDT (#185297) #

Mets pitcher John Maine is a fellow engineer, having majored in Mechanical Engineering at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte.  He's the only one I can think of at the moment, though I'm sure there are a lot more.  But it would be great if Mills turned into the next Maine!

Lugnut Fan - Thursday, May 15 2008 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#185300) #

Jason Szumanski (I butchered the spelling of his name) pitched for San Diego recently with an engineering degree from MIT.

Current major leaguers with engineering degrees that I can think of are Carlos Pena with Tampa Bay and Brian Barton with St. Louis.  Barton has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and wants to be an astronaut when his playing days are over.

I have a degree in mechanical engineering and I don't know how these guys did it.  I played two years in college and had to quit because I couldn't keep up and I didn't have near the amount of travel as a guy from a big school.  Definitely impressive.

hugo - Thursday, May 15 2008 @ 01:43 PM EDT (#185321) #
Right on - I'm not an engineer, but I majored in biochem and took several biomedical engineering classes and played club in college, and even that limited travel was too much for me - I had to stop playing! I had forgotten about Barton. Wouldn't his knee surgery last season be disqualifying from future service as an astronaut? Those NASA folks can be extremely picky. I wonder if that will change as space exploration becomes more privatized.
An Interview with A Civil Engineer (Brad Mills) | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.