Tim Tadlock’s newest group of freshman are arriving on campus to get an early start in school and in the batting cages. Right hand pitcher and outfielder John McMillon decided to get on board after Texas Tech’s historic season.
McMillon chose Texas Tech despite offers from Houston and Texas A&M. He signed with the Red Raiders back in November during the early signing period.
“The reason was the coaching staff and how good they were and how well they treated me when I came up on my visits,” he said. “I came on my unofficial visit my junior year. They took me to a football game and toured the campus and they were with me all day. The head coach, Tim Tadlock, was with me all day. That kind of attention really stood out to me…”
It wasn’t just college teams interested in McMillon, but MLB teams as well. The Tampa Bay Rays drafted him in the 21st round. He decided to decline the $700,000 signing bonus and play college ball, because it will help him develop as a player and more importantly as a person.
“When you sign a pro contract, you have to become a man instantaneously, because you’re by yourself,” McMillon explained. “I’ve always wanted to play college baseball, it’s been a dream of mine, and I feel like it will help me grow up as a person, not that I couldn’t have done it, but it would have been a lot harder for me as an 18 year old as opposed to being 21.”
McMillon arrived to Lubbock on Friday all the way from Jasper, Texas. That’s a small town in deep East Texas with a population around 7,600 people. He said although his hometown is small, Lubbock still has a small town feel so it shouldn’t be hard to adjust.
“I run in to a lot of Cajuns down there and not so much up here,” he said with a chuckle. “The whole boots and jeans kind of town, Jasper has a lot of that so it hasn’t been to much of a culture shock.”
Even though he is from a small town, his game is a lot bigger. McMillon played catcher in high school and received first team All-American honors from USA Today. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds he can also pitch and play outfield and after talking with coach Tadlock, McMillon is ready to play many different positions.
“We [McMillon and Tadlock] have been joking around that it’s whatever position is open that day. I will be moving around a lot. I played a lot of different positions in my life and even in high school, so it will just come down to whatever fits right when the season comes around and even then I’ll be moving around,” he said.
Most likely he will get his start in the outfield, in order to fill the big shoes Tyler Neslony and Stephen Smith have left behind. McMillon could be a good addition to the Texas Tech bullpen as well. During a work out with the Colorado Rockies in January he recorded a 96-mile per hour fastball.
No matter where he is put, McMillon said he is just happy to be apart of a team coming off of a CWS appearance and will do what ever they need to continue to raise the bar.
“Wherever you get put just give it 100% you know,” he said. “Are you a third baseman or a ball player? You have to go out and be a ball player and give it your all every play and that’s how to get comfortable at so many positions. If anything just run hard, throw the ball hard and swing the bat as hard as you can.”