Pitt's Mildren faces big decision about baseball future
Pitt junior Ethan Mildren has emerged as one of the Big East's top pitchers this season, leading the conference in innings and winning five of seven decisions.
A much bigger decision awaits in two months.
Mildren, a Laurel Highlands graduate, almost certainly will be selected in the June 6-8 MLB Draft. Then he must weigh the lure of a signing bonus and the start of a professional career with returning to Pitt for his senior season.
“It's one of those things that when it happens, I'll deal with it,” said Mildren, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander. “I can't really pinpoint a certain number. I can't base my decision on anything this early.”
Another factor is Pitt's move to the ACC next season. That would give Mildren the chance to face elite college hitters on a regular basis, a level he said is comparable to rookie ball.
“I don't think (staying would) financially benefit him in any way, but it is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch in what is arguably the best baseball conference in the country,” Pitt coach Joe Jordano said. “Playing in front of huge crowds, having the opportunity to be on that national stage.”
However, Mildren also could hurt his draft stock for 2014 if he returns and struggles in the ACC. Plus, there's the injury risk. See why Mildren is trying to block out the draft talk?
So far, his performance has said plenty this year. Mildren has a 2.85 ERA in 60 innings — including three complete games — in helping Pitt to a 20-9 record. His five wins are tied for third in the Big East, and opponents are hitting .230 against him. Scouts have been at all eight of his starts.
“He's definitely a big-time draft guy this year because of his body,” said Panthers pitching coach Jerry Oakes, a seventh-round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2000 who spent eight years in the minor leagues. “My guess is he'll go pretty high.
“He's got big league makeup on the mound. He's a big kid. He can locate well. He knows how to pitch.”
Mildren's fastball typically sits between 88-91 mph, and he also throws a cutter, changeup and curveball.
“He'll run it up there at times, but he just has a great feel for pitching,” Jordano said. “He commands his pitches. He has a feel for his offspeed. He controls the running game. He just has a great presence.”
Mildren also doesn't hurt himself on the mound. He has only 13 walks this season, and as a freshman, he pitched more than 50 innings before issuing his first walk.
“When you have command, you are pounding the zone, you have three pitches that have great movement, and you can command that, you can win at any level,” Jordano said. “When he gets into an environment where it's baseball 24-7, he's doing it for a living and he continues to physically and mentally mature, that's when he's really going to blossom.”
Mildren has talked about his dream of playing in the majors since his days at Laurel Highlands, where he was a two-time Tribune-Review Baseball Player of the Year and the 2010 Male Athlete of the Year. That dream might not be so far-fetched anymore.
“(My dream is) just to get the opportunity to have a shot and be able to make it and stay up there and have a long, healthy career.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s Chryst names Voytik starting quarterback
- Pitt, Penn State face competition for ticket sales
- Pitt takes part in government concussion study
- Pitt assistant strength coach’s battle with cancer inspires players
- Pitt notebook: Chryst ready to ‘tighten things down’ for season
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?