Prospect Mills aiming to stick with Royals

Rookie righty talks debut, journey from UT-Martin walk-on to Majors

January 18th, 2017

KANSAS CITY -- Royals rookie right-hander was at the recent MLB/MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program and talked about his Major League debut last season, among other topics.

Mills, 25, pitched in three games for the Royals, posting a 13.50 ERA. But the coaching staff and front-office personnel remain high on Mills, who is Kansas City's No. 8 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.

MLB.com: You've had an unusual journey, going from college walk-on to 22nd-round Draft pick to having Tommy John surgery early in your career. What was that climb like?

Mills: The struggle has made it even more special. I don't know if there was ever any doubt, but there's times you're tough on yourself: "Is this really going to happen? Is this dream going to come true?" But yes, it's special.

MLB.com: You came from the University of Tennessee at Martin. First to make it to the big leagues from that program. How much pride do you take in that?

Mills: Actually, it's pretty awesome. That might be the first time I heard that. I'm thankful for everything Martin did for me. I think being a walk-on there and going to a lesser established program gave me more opportunity to pitch and get better. The only way you get better is in game situations.

MLB.com: Scouts talk about your control, your fastball. What do you have to work on to get back to the big leagues and stay there?

Mills: Make pitches. Control every pitch you have. When I was up there [in the Majors], I walked quite a few people, hit some guys. I don't know if it was nerves or just adjusting. It's about putting any pitch anywhere you want.

MLB.com: What number do you prefer?

Mills: Well, I had 63 with the Royals. I didn't really get to choose that. Growing up I was either 21 or double-zero. I don't know where that double-zero came from.

MLB.com: What big leaguers who you haven't faced would you like to face?

Mills: I don't know. It's kind of funny. It would have been kind of nice to face , but they pulled me out right before that. Probably good because he probably would have hurt me.

MLB.com: If you get a big league at-bat, what would your walkup music be?

Mills: Talking about it kind of makes me nervous because I haven't picked up a bat in a long time. I have no idea. Maybe something country to go back to my Tennessee roots.

MLB.com: Do you have a celebrity lookalike?

Mills: I don't think I look like him, but people in high school said I looked like [the movie character] Napoleon Dynamite. Maybe because I acted like him and tried to be the goofball.