All Bobby Milacki wanted was another shot to make it to the Majors.
After his second start for the Joliet Slammers – an independent professional baseball team in Illinois – the former Lake Havasu High standout received that shot. The Minnesota Twins purchased his contract from the Slammers and he later signed a Minor League deal with the organization. The deal became official on Monday, according to the MLB transaction wire.
“There was a lot of hard work put into it,” Milacki said. “Like man, all that hard work was worth it in the end. It was exciting to get that chance.”
A scout from the Twins attended Milacki’s second start for the Slammers, which didn’t go his way. Milacki allowed four earned runs, three walks and six hits in four innings. Milacki tossed six strikeouts in the losing effort and the Slammers fell 5-1 to the Schaumburg (Illinois) Boomers.
Milacki gave up three of his four earned runs in the fourth inning after allowing a walk and a couple of hits.
“In my head, I was just like ‘Dang, I kind of blew it in front of this scout,’” Milacki said. “I was a little optimistic because I knew it’s a baseball person in the stands and he was watching the game and everything. So he could see what would happen and then it was kind of just some bad luck. It was singles that really weren’t hit that hard, but they were just finding holes.”
Even though it wasn’t his strongest outing, the scout wanted to meet Milacki, who was pulled aside by the Slammers’ owner in the dugout after the fourth inning.
“Before I could even think of anything to say, He’s like ‘The Twins are buying your contract out,’” Milacki said. “So literally, an inning after I got pulled, I was being told that I was going to the Twins, which was really exciting.”
Once the Twins purchased his contract, Milacki packed his bags later that night and drove to the Twins’ alternate training site in Florida the following morning. Milacki said the drive from Illinois to Florida was about 19 hours and it was about a two-day trip.
“Everything happened really fast,” Milacki said. “I really didn’t have time to think it through yet until about the second day of the drive.”
After officially signing his contract, Milacki was assigned to the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels – the Twins Low-A ball affiliate. Milacki may not be in the Majors yet, but writing his signature on that contract was part of a long journey back to an MLB organization.
“I was doing something every single day for 365 days to try to get better,” Milacki said. “I didn’t take a whole lot of time off.”
Milacki was cut from the Nationals last May and his release came a month before it was announced that the Minor League Baseball season was canceled due to the pandemic.
Shortly after his release, the former Lake Havasu Knight competed with Joliet Tully Monsters and tossed 26 strikeouts in 21 innings and recorded a 1.29 ERA in a league that featured guys with Minor and Major League experience. The Tully Monsters was a team created by the Slammers for a one-year four-team league called the City of Championship League.
“Once I got released, I put myself in the mindset of ‘Hey, if you want to get back in there, you’re going to have to do stuff that’s out of your comfort zone. You’re going to have to lift heavier and push your body to the absolute limit that you can,’” Milacki said. “I was lifting heavier than I ever have in my life.
“I pushed my body to the absolute limit that I possibly could have. I got a lot stronger and I’m throwing harder than I ever have and I think that had a big play in me getting picked up.”
Milacki signed with the Slammers last October and made two starts for them this year. During his short time with the Slammers, Milacki was 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA. In his only winning start, Milacki helped lead the Slammers to a 3-1 over the Windy City Thunderbolts after throwing seven strikeouts and allowing two hits and a walk in five innings.
Prior to playing for the Slammers, Milacki was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft and had Minor League stints with the Gulf Coast League Nationals in rookie ball and the Auburn Doubledays – the organization’s Class-A Short Season affiliate.
“I just don’t want to get complacent,” Milacki said about returning to an MLB organization. “After signing, I just want to keep pushing forward and see what I could do to keep bettering myself because obviously, the ultimate goal is to play in the big leagues now and get a chance up there.”