When I signed my first professional contract in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies I had a plan in my head of how my baseball career would turn out. I had just celebrated my seventeenth birthday and as I signed my contract I looked it over and noticed it was a seven year contract. So I thought, too easy, I will be pitching in the big leagues when I'm 24 years old. I had nothing to worry about. There were seven levels in the Phillies system including the Major Leagues, seven levels, seven years, I will be a big leaguer and making millions of dollars in no time. Oh how wrong I was.
Lets fast forward eight years to 2016 and see where I am in my career. I have been released, then signed with the Minnesota Twins, then release again allt before I had turned 21 years old, started taking online classes to try and earn a degree, and even spent a summer playing baseball in Holland where I decided to test the theory "white men can't jump" and slam dunk a basketball. The result was busted left elbow which need a full reconstruction. I was re-signed by the Twins who had released me just two years earlier and almost broke an all-time record with a Minor League affiliate for most appearances by a pitcher. And where am I now? I'm sitting in a hotel in Jackson, Tennessee two weeks after being promoted to the Twins AA affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts.
I was asked by a coach in Spring Training of 2015 what my goals were. Once again, I was very optimistic and said I'd like to be promoted to AA by the end of the season and be pitching in the Major Leagues by the end of 2016. Now let's see how my plan turned out this time. In July 2014 I was promoted from the Twins Low-A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels to the High-A affiliate which are the Fort Myers Miracle. Instead of being promoted to AA I spent the entire 2015 season with the Miracle. Instead of being promoted to AA after Spring Training this year, I spent nearly the entire season with the Miracle which like I said above, almost resulted in me etching my name in the record books with Ft Myers as the all-time appearance leader by a pitcher with the club. For those of you playing at home I pitched in 101 games with the Miracle and the record was 106 set back in 1993-94. So as you can tell, and once again the plan I had set out in spring training the year before hadn't really turned out the way I would have liked it. I remember a quote by a coach in the Twins system who said "It's a different experience when you let whatever happened be the thing that's supposed to happen. It's a way different experience than to think of what's supposed to happen and then when it doesn't happen judge it not to be right". That quote has kind of stuck with me for awhile, so much that it has been written as a note in my iPhone since 2014.
If you are a minor league baseball player and you tell me the thoughts of "I can't do this anymore" or "Is this worth it?" or "What am I doing with my life?" have not popped into your head at some point during the summer months, then I'm going to find it hard to believe you. The minor league baseball season is a grind like no other and it questions your love for the game each and everyday. At the end of the day, or even the start of each day you remind yourself why you do this. I tell myself I do this because there are many times I could have given up, and I do this for the times I wanted to give up and didn't. I do it for that. If I had given up after a terrible outing in July this season like I was ready to, I wouldn't be sitting in a hotel room about to head to the field to play the AA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. I've learnt over time and through experience that just because your plan hasn't gone the way you have wanted, it isn't a reason that you can't achieve your goals. Someone else somewhere has a bigger plan for you. Trust it.