By Chad Dixon
The goal for Russell County left-handed pitcher Hunter Milam was to see his name called during last week’s MLB First-Year Player Draft. Russell County Head Coach Tony Rasmus indicated in February that he felt Milam needed to add a few miles per hour to his fastball to hear his name called. Milam was able to increase his velocity to 93 mph and on June 6, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 22nd round.
Milam was monitoring Twitter at his younger brother’s Perfect Game tournament in Atlanta, Ga., when he saw his name pop up on the MLB Draft Twitter handle. During his senior season with the Warriors, he posted a 10-1 record with a 1.33 ERA. He struck out 135 batters over 73 innings.
“Hunter came to us as a rising junior who hadn’t done much lifting, didn’t have a change-up and not much of a breaking ball. He didn’t know how to work to begin with but is a beast in the weight room today. I would consider him a thrower back then rather than a pitcher,” Rasmus said. “Today, he’s as strong as any player I’ve ever had. His change- up has the makings of a big league out pitch, the breaking ball has improved greatly and he throws 93 mph.”
Milam knew getting stronger and working on his breaking pitches would be a key factor as he entered his senior season.
“I needed to build up my velocity and the only way to do that was in the weight room. I also needed to develop my off-speed pitches,” Milam said.
Milam was an early commit to Memphis University, but later flipped his commitment to Gulf Coast State College prior to his senior season.
“My main goal was to get drafted and I knew if I signed with Gulf Coast that I would eligible every season. A lot of people consider the Pan Handle Conference the SEC of JUCO baseball,” Milam added.
He now has the decision to sign with the Angels by August 16 or pitch his freshman season in Panama City, Fla.
“I would believe that if Hunter chooses to go to college to perfect his craft that he has the potential to be a first round guy. He is the hardest working left hander I’ve ever had and is the most talented left hander I’ve ever had. I’ve had a guy who was a first round pick, so that will give you some idea of his ability,” Rasmus added.
“He grew from a shy kid to a leader who is the first old school Russell County player that I’ve had since I left in 2013. Hunter has shown our younger kids how to work and has been a huge reason why our program jumped back to being a top program again. I’ll be proud to put his name on our MLB draftees banner this year. He’s helped put Russell County Baseball back on the map and has shown our kids what it takes to get drafted and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Milam is the 13th Russell County player to be drafted in the MLB Draft.
Milam feels whatever decision he makes, he is in a good spot. He was selected higher than any other high school pitcher in the state of Alabama in this year’s draft.
“I’ve talked to former Russell County players that were drafted and they just tell me to remember that there is always someone out there trying to out-work you. It was my dream to get drafted, but if I do go to college then I think my velocity will only improve as well,” said Milam.