After two years on SIUE’s baseball team, Spring 2020 graduate Cole Milam, of Waterloo, Illinois, signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent.
Milam said it felt amazing when the Red Sox officially signed him, especially considering the work he had put in to get this far.
“It feels like a dream come true. I’ve worked for this my entire life,” Milam said. “It feels especially great, being a kid that already pitched in high school, anda few innings in junior college.”
Although Milam only played at SIUE for the past two seasons, his earlier baseball career had been closely watched by SIUE’s baseball coaches.
Baseball Head Coach Sean Lyons said he even saw Milam play in high school.
“We happened to see Cole play in high school, and we saw him at [Jefferson College],” Lyons said. “We were the ones who recruited him to come to SIUE. After his two years at [Jefferson College], he decided to come play for us.”
Although they saw Milam play in high school, Lyons said the decision was made to not immediately scout him into playing at SIUE.
“Cole’s a big, strong kid, and he threw the ball hard,” Lyons said. “He was the pitcher, so he had arm strength. The main goal we wanted for him was a matter of honing his skills, and learning to throw strikes consistently.”
Assistant Coach Brandon Scott agreed with Lyons, and said Milam worked hard to sharpen his skills while at Jefferson College.
“He didn’t pitch a ton in junior college, but he got here, and that seemed to change a few things for him,” Scott said. “He needed more command with his fastball. Over time, he developed a big time slider, which usually led to a majority strikeout. His breaking ball is good. He has definitely worked his butt off.”
One of the biggest motivators to keep Milam working was his sense of responsibility for the teams he played with.
“When I’m out there playing the game, I don’t want to let my teammates down. It’s definitely high pressure,” Milam said. “I remember, this last season, they brought me out during a tie, at the end of game one. I didn’t want to go out there and lose it for my team, and I didn’t.”
When looking ahead to his future in major league baseball, Milam said his biggest concern is the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic denying him his first season next year. Milam said he even thought he might not get signed this year because of COVID-19.
“At first, this season kind of slowed down. Then, once the major league stopped, all I heard was just crickets. Mentally I thought ball was over, but it all started for me again,” Milam said. “It definitely doesn’t feel very good for next year, especially because I already got robbed of my senior season. The player developers [for the Red Sox] said there probably won’t be a season next year, but we would still have individual development, like training, which I’m still excited for regardless.”
Milam will likely be playing for the Red Sox as a relief pitcher in the coming seasons.