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“It adds fuel to the fire.”  – Denver Post

Colin Fields has seen many of his friends get their first jobs in recent months after graduating from college.

The Libertyville grad joined the salaried ranks in a different way.

Fields, a right-hander who ended a four-year career at Valparaiso in the spring, signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Tigers on July 19.

“It’s cool and exciting, and I’m really grateful to be doing something that a lot of people dream of,” Fields said. “It was almost like a two to three year interview process. But I have my foot in the door and I’m going to take it step by step to learn as much as possible.

That process began with an orientation day for the Tigers’ rookie class in Lakeland, Fla., last week and will continue with additional instruction and bullpen work.

Since Fields kicked a team-record 73 ⅔ innings for Valparaiso this year, it’s unlikely he’ll see any substantial playing action until 2023. That leaves plenty of time for Fields to reach the hall. bodybuilding, acclimatize to the technological infrastructure available to vocational training. facilities and make a favorable impression on the Tigers development staff.

He will do it without forgetting that he was not drafted.

Ahead of the 20-round draft, several teams reached out to Fields’ adviser Sara Kelm to let her know he could be picked on day three. She communicated to the teams that if Fields was not drafted, the first team to call afterward would get his services.

The Tigers made the move 15 minutes after the final draft pick.

“There was a sense of disappointment and anger, and it adds fuel to the fire that I deserved to be picked,” Fields said. “Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter. I always feel like there’s a lot more to me to unlock.

Fields’ work as a senior certainly seemed draft-worthy. He was named to the All-Missouri Valley Conference second team after ranking second in the nation with 14.08 strikeouts in nine innings. He played three games with double-digit strikeouts — including 13, the most by a Valparaiso pitcher in 11 years, in a game against Illinois-Chicago.

Fields ranks fifth in strikeouts on Valparaiso’s career list. As a junior, he threw a no-hitter in a game against Middle Tennessee State that also featured a rare clean inning.

“He’s really taken off in the last couple of years and especially as a senior he’s been able to block out a lot of the outside noise and just throw,” Valparaiso coach Brian Schmack said. “To be in his situation is a huge accomplishment. Now it’s about performing well enough that they have no choice but to keep pushing you forward.

Libertyville coach Matt Thompson wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.

The confidence Fields showed for the Wildcats always prevailed, which left Thompson feeling the team would win any game Fields started.

One of the biggest scenes for Fields to show came in a 1-0 masterpiece against St. Viator in a Class 4A sectional semi-final in 2018.

“He was off that day and really turned them off,” Thompson said. “Colin always had that confidence and always performed. I knew he had the ability to reach that level.

Fields, who earned a degree in finance, hasn’t had much time since signing to fully process exactly what happened.

He did, however, spend some quality time with his family before heading to Florida. He said his interactions with his father, Timm, and grandfather, Gary, were particularly rewarding.

“I’ve always had a special relationship with them around the sport,” Fields said. “Living that dream and seeing their reactions was quite emotional.”

Steve Reaven is a freelance journalist for the News-Sun.



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