By Sam Hopkins, Sports Editor
The World Wood Bat Association Championships not only offer the opportunity to compete and bring home hardware, but also offer the chance to be seen by potential college scouts. Junior Miko Rodriguez was one of the lucky few being noticed this particular weekend.
“This is where Texas A&M first saw me,” Miko said. “They took a liking to me, gave me an offer, and now I’m planning on attending there.”
Entering his junior year, Miko had several offers on the table. Miko had it narrowed down to the University of Miami, Duke University, Notre Dame University, Xavier University, and Texas A&M University. Texas A&M was Miko’s final decision.
“I just felt really at home there,” he said. “They had many of the features I was looking for in a school so that’s a plus. The coaching staff was very helpful and made me realize that I could see myself being an Aggie for the next four years.”
Along with competing with some of the best on the diamond, Miko plans to major in business. Texas A&M’s Mays Business School is notoriously known for high academic success. Finishing third in the nation with one of the best undergraduate programs, they have an eighty-six percent job placement rate.
Early on, Miko realized that he had a knack for the game of baseball. Being invited to prestigious college camps and competing among the elite, Miko realized that his dream of playing Division One college baseball could become a reality.
“Early on, I knew I wanted to play in the SEC,” Miko said. “They have the most competitive teams, and baseball is overall better down south.”
Brandon Birdsell, one of A&M’s top recruits, helped Miko out in the scouting process. Brandon, the number two recruit in the nation, played with Miko and decided to let Texas A&M know about him.
“I played with him, and we built a great relationship,” Miko said. “Without his help, A&M wouldn’t have known about a kid from Michigan. He really helped me out in the long run.”
According to the PBR Poll, Miko is ranked among the best in the class of 2018. Standing at 6-0, 195 lbs., Miko is sixty-fourth ranked overall, finishing at twenty-second among the outfielders.
Making sure that he has a chance to compete at the highest level, Miko has been training with highly-skilled professionals for years. At the Elite Training Center on Clyde Park Ave., Miko meets with Coaches Mike Paul and Dave Joppie regularly. Paul, a Minnesota Twins scout, works with Miko in a Conditioning and Strength Training Program (CST) several days a week. Joppie, the Boston Red Sox hitting coach, trains Miko in his approach at the plate.
“Miko brings it all,” said Michael Capaldi, Miko’s summer league head coach. “Speed, size, power and arm strength. He is a team guy, not a me guy. Tough to find that in a kid his age.”
Miko attributes much of his success on the field to the time he has put in training over the off-season.
Playing on an Elite team his whole life, Miko made the transition this summer to play for a highly-recruited team based out of New Jersey. Tri-State Arsenal, a team riddled with SEC and ACC commits, would give Miko a greater chance of being scouted.
“Of course I miss the guys on my Elite team,” said Miko, who now plays a year up on the 17U Arsenal team. “I have many great memories with those guys that I’ll never forget.”
Moving from Elite to Tri-State, Miko now plans on playing with the Evoshield Canes next summer. Miko’s new team consists of recruits from Vanderbilt to UNC to TCU, some of the most prestigious baseball schools in the nation.
Now that high school has begun, Miko’s focus has switched back to leading FHC to a conference championship. Starting on varsity since his freshman year, Miko and his teammates have built relationships based off of hard work and dedication. One specific teammate junior Nate Doolittle, who’s played with Miko on varsity since his freshman year, has seen Miko’s potential and admires the way Miko plays the game.
“He’s a good team player and always works for what he wants,” Nate said. “He helps the team by working as hard as he can and pushing everyone around him.”
For the duration of the 2016 NCAA season, Texas A&M was ranked first in the nation and finished with a win of the SEC championship. Along with their winning traditions, Texas A&M has a habit of producing players that go on to enter the MLB draft. Last season, Texas A&M managed to send fourteen players to the draft, the most in college baseball.
Taking a look deeper into his future, Miko has his sights set on the show. The MLB has thirty teams that consist of twenty-five man rosters. Miko hopes to defy the odds and compete at the highest level.
“Obviously, the dream is to make it to the professional level,” Miko said. “I believe that going to A&M gives me the best chance to achieve that dream and goal. It’s been fun. The journey’s been up and down but I’m glad it ended up the way it did. There’s still work that needs to be done at A&M, and I’m excited for what happens next.”