You probably caught it at the end of Len Kasper’s call after Javier Báez threw over to Anthony Rizzo for the final out on Sunday, when Alec Mills no-hit the Brewers at Miller Park.
“The former college walk-on has made history in Milwaukee!”
A college walk-on? It’s not like we haven’t seen these stories before, but it doesn’t make Mills’ journey any less inspirational.
Mills, who grew up in Tennessee, wasn’t even recruited to play for Tennessee Martin and only made the team after walking by practice, telling the coach he was good enough to be on the team and then getting a tryout.
Baseball is incredible. Alec Mills wasn’t recruited to the University of Tennessee at Martin. He walked by practice one day and told the coach he was good enough to pitch on the team. A tryout followed. 22nd round pick. Today, he threw a no-hitter for the @Cubs. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) September 13, 2020
The Royals picked Mills in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft, and after four seasons in the minors the right-hander got his first cup of coffee in the majors in 2016.
Mills only made three relief appearances in 2016, giving up five runs in 3.1 innings and right before spring training in 2017, he was traded to the Cubs for minor league outfielder Donnie Dewees.
However, things didn’t really get better for Mills once he joined the Cubs’ organization. The right-hander only made seven starts in the minors, sidelined most of 2017 because of a stress reaction, the same injury that Yu Darvish suffered in his first year with the Cubs in 2018.
Mills was called up by the Cubs to the big leagues in 2018, making a few spot starts and seven overall appearances. And then 2019 happened.
Alec Mills gave up 15 hits in a start against the Omaha Storm Chasers on May 24, 2019.
At that point, the Pacific Coast League was hitting .385 off the right-hander.
By contrast, the Milwaukee Brewers hit .000 off him today. Zero. Zero. Zero. https://t.co/EQ5HRMU9cR
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) September 13, 2020
Mills had a 5.11 ERA in 104 innings at Triple-A in 2019, allowing opponents to hit .284 against him. However, we did see Mills have success with the Cubs once again, recording a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings.
Entering spring training in 2020, Mills was battling with Tyler Chatwood for the fifth spot in the rotation and before the shutdown in mid-March, it appeared as though Mills was headed to the bullpen to begin the season. That despite Mills looking great in Arizona.
But then Mills caught a break. You never want to see guys get injured, but you also love to see guys make the most of the chances they get. Jose Quintana cut his thumb days before the start of summer camp, which allowed Mills to be the fifth starter once the season began in late July.
And in his 15th career start in MLB, Alec Mills, the college walk-on, made history.
What kind of bear is best? 🐻 pic.twitter.com/skr7hvnSeO
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 13, 2020
And how can you not love his quote after the game.
Alec Mills, full quote (updated from earlier):
"I'm just proud to be that person that can tell you to never give up. Never stop playing. Never let people tell you what you can and can't do and just keep persevering and be the best person you can be."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 13, 2020