Milbrath Resurrects Starter Career with Captains with Complete Game
Laurel Wilder | On 10, Apr 2014
A player’s first professional win is always going to be a moment to remember. Perhaps the only thing that can make the moment sweeter is combining that first win with pitching a complete game.
For 22 year-old Jordan Milbrath, that was exactly what happened during the Lake County Captains first scheduled doubleheader on Saturday, April 5.
Following Lake County’s first win during the first game, Milbrath came in to pitch the second, following first game starter Caleb Hamrick and relief pitcher Kenny Mathews. Hamrick and Milbrath will likely be piggybacking in their immediate future starts, according to pitching coach Rigo Beltran. However, since the doubleheader games were scheduled at seven innings each, the two starters each started their own games.
Milbrath, however, went on to pitch his entire game. He threw only 73 pitches in his seven innings of work, allowing only two hits and no runs. Bullpen pitchers did not even start warming up until the seventh inning as Milbrath began to reach his pitch count for the game, which, according to Beltran, was around “80-ish pitches.”
Milbrath was nothing but smiles when discussing his outing after the game.
“It’s a good feeling,” Milbrath said. “I mean, we actually got nice weather today. It cleared up and the sun came out – we were all having fun at the park today.”
For Milbrath, a Minnesota native, the chilly Cleveland April weather – which may serve as a shock to some Captains’ players from warmer climates – is nothing new. However, he was quick to admit that, while normal, it is not necessarily the ideal temperatures for a pitcher.
“I mean, this is pretty normal, I guess, but it’s always more fun to play in the heat,” Milbrath said. “I think everybody would agree to that. I don’t think you can ever get used to it (pitching in the cold). You like to pitch in warmth no matter what.”
Milbrath spent most of his career pitching in colder climates, first for Springfield High School, where he was a four-year letter winner and starter. He earned All-State accolades as a senior and owned a 3.42 ERA as a senior in 30.2 innings, along with a .437 batting average. As a high school junior, Milbrath posted a 1.97 ERA and pitched 39.0 innings.
He continued his career first at Saint Cloud College, where he spent a season pitching with fellow Indians’ minor leaguer Jordan Smith. Milbrath described Smith as a “great kid” to play with.
Following his brief tenure at Saint Cloud, Milbrath transferred to Augustana College in South Dakota, where, as a sophomore in 2013, he started 12 games and posted a 4.57 ERA and a 7-2 record. He threw two complete games during the season and pitched a team-high 67.0 innings. He also had team-highs in batters struck out (60), and struck out at least two batters in each starting appearance. He was drafted out of Augustana in the 35th round of the 2013 draft.
Though he was a starter in college, Milbrath was used as a reliever last season, most of which was spent with the Arizona League Indians. He had a 1-1 record and owned a 4.87 ERA in 13 games, along with 17 strikeouts and 15 walks in 20.1 innings pitched. He made a brief appearance with Lake County in 2013, throwing in one game and allowing one hit, four runs (three of which were earned), and walking two batters.
Milbrath said that it doesn’t matter when he’s appearing in a game – whether starting or relieving – as long as he’s on the mound.
“As long as I’m seeing field time, that’s all that matters,” Milbrath said. “I love pitching and I’ll get any innings any way possible.”
And innings Milbrath received. The seven innings he recently pitched for Lake County were a slightly new experience for Milbrath, who said that he knew he was throwing well when the game started, and could tell that his outing was going to be a successful one once he fine-tuned his delivery in the bullpen.
“The bullpen’s usually where I try to figure it out,” Milbrath explained. “I told my catcher after the bullpen that I promised I would hit some spots, because I wasn’t hitting some spots in the bullpen. Some days are just like that. You figure it out as you go and you make adjustments as you go.”
“I was missing with some pitches here and there,” Milbrath said of the mix he was using during the game, which included his fastball, curveball, and change-up. “Overall, they were all working together and they were working and it seemed to work against the team today.”
During his outing, Milbrath did not seem afraid to get ahead in the count by delivering fastballs early to the batter. He said that this is his normal approach to hitters, regardless of who is at the plate.
“Thats always my goal, to get ahead in the count. It doesn’t matter who it is, you want to make a good pitch your first pitch. It just sets up the whole at-bat from there, you know, by making the first pitch.”
“I was getting a little tired toward the end,” Milbrath admitted. “But it felt good today, all day.”
Milbrath summed up his complete game and first win of the season emphasizing the ease in which everything clicked for him when he walked onto the mound.
“Everything was clicking pretty well. Control was good, everything was working together,” Milbrath said. “[Richard] Stock was calling a great game behind the dish, made it a lot easier for me to keep my tempo. Obviously, the defensive was great behind me, and the bats were great, too. Everything was just clicking for us.”
Off to a hot start, things seem to be clicking all around for the Lake County Captains – and especially for young and promising pitchers such as Milbrath. Having already thrown a complete game, what could possibly be next? One thing is for sure, Milbrath will be a name to watch as the season continues – and hopefully for seasons to come.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer