The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
You could see when Jared Milch was coming out of high school that he had, something, when he took the mound.
His senior year at Terra Nova in 2016, the lefty gave a glimpse of what could be possible, when he went 4-3 but, more importantly, posted a 1.09 ERA.
A solid ERA, no doubt. But it’s more than four times bigger than his current ERA as a sophomore start for College of San Mateo. With five starts under his belt in his final season with the Bulldogs, Milch is a perfect 5-0 with a state-leading ERA of 0.25. He has allowed one earned run through 36 innings of work in seven appearances (five starts) this season.
“It’s nice to see him develop into what we thought he could be,” said CSM manager Doug Williams. “It’s nice to see Jared enjoy the fruits of his labor.”
That labor has been both physical and mental for Milch and the entire CSM team. For the first time in his life, Milch did not throw during the offseason as it was decided to let his arm rest. Not only did Milch then focus on the gym to get his body stronger, but he also set out to make his mental game tougher, as well.
“I’ve been pretty much throwing my entire life (both in and out of season). I threw a lot of innings the last couple years. We knew we were going to be throwing more this season. … I was in the gym a ton more, pretty much every day. I took the summer off from throwing to rest my arm and get it stronger, get my legs stronger,” Milch said. “I took a lot of time with the mental game, which we preach so much (at CSM). In those tight situations, how can you keep yourself calm?
“We’ve really worked on training our minds as well as our bodies.”
Milch has blended both the physical and mental parts of the game seamlessly this season. Diablo Valley is the only team that has scored an earned run against Milch this season, a 6-1 CSM loss Feb. 8 in his second start of the season. West Valley is the only other team to score against Milch, an unearned run, in a 10-1 Bulldogs’ win in his last start March 8. He’s been part of three shutouts on the year and has 25 strikeouts against just two walks this season.
“Everything is working,” Williams said. “You don’t have that ERA and strikeout-to-walk (ratio) without having good command.
“There is a difference between control and command. He had pretty good control last year. He has good command inside the strike zone this year.”
Milch has been a key component in a CSM team that has won five of its last six games after losing three of five leading up to Golden Gate Conference play. He credits the defense behind him for making things a lot easier on the mound.
“The infield has been unbelievable. … It’s easy to trust the outfield,” Milch said. “It’s really about trusting my defense as well as my coaches.”
Other than the local junior colleges, Milch said he had no interest from four-year college coaches as he wrapped up his high school career at Terra Nova. Williams, who said he has given up trying to figure out four-year college recruiting and the professional baseball draft, knew there was plenty to work with when he recruited Milch.
“I thought all along he’s the perfect case of a very good high school player that makes a good decision to go to a JC and spring board off there to things that might not have been on the radar coming out of high school,” Williams said. “He’s committed to the training program and is continuing to make a commitment. … [Players] really need to find within themselves that they can accomplish what they want if they believe in themselves. It’s about the hard work and commitment to it.
“We feel pretty good about the system (here at CSM). Jared felt good about it coming out of high school. So far, the formula has worked for him.”
Now, Milch is in high demand, according to Williams.
“He’s garnering a lot of interest now,” Williams said. “He’s got a pretty high ceiling. Being left handed, having three pitches for strikes, there is always a need for that. There are quite a few people interested.”
But Milch is just focused on the here and now. With no interest from four-year schools out of high school, Milch wants to repay the CSM program that had faith in him when no one else did.
“I think that we (my family) knew the pieces would fall into place where they were meant to be. CSM was a great decision and I don’t regret a thing about it. I’m thankful to be here, to be a part of a big program like this one,” Milch said. “When you look back on it, you want to say it was worth it. That’s something I want to be able to say, it was worth it, all the hard work.”