Patrick Mincey doesn't know how he ended up in Schaumburg, but he's glad he did.
After finishing his senior season in 2011 at South Carolina's Francis Marion University, Mincey was not selected in the Major League Baseball draft, despite his 1.97 earned run average in 32 innings of relief that season. Mincey searched around for an independent team to play with, but couldn't find a team with space for him on its roster.
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Other Schaumburg Boomers to watchPatrick Mincey is on track to become the first Boomers player to make the jump to affiliated baseball, but several players have contributed to the team's hot start. Here are some Boomers to watch as the team tries to maintain its hold on first place heading into the second half of the season.
Cameron Roth, LHP: Roth, a former Baltimore Orioles prospect, has posted a 5-2 record and 2.35 ERA over nine starts, providing consistency in the team's starting rotation.
Frank Pfister, 3B: Batting .326 with 9 home runs, Pfister has consistently led the team's offense, appearing in all 42 Boomers games thus far.
Robby Donovan, RHP: In 8 starts, Donovan is 5-1 with 39 strikeouts and a 3.83 ERA and has been a second consistent force in the starting rotation.
Chad Mozingo, OF: With two years of affiliated experience under his belt, Mozingo was the Boomers' second pick in this year's draft and has batted .289 with 22 RBIs this season.
-- Caitlin Swieca
His chance finally came in January, when Schaumburg Boomers manager Jamie Bennett came across Mincey while building the roster for his new Frontier League team.
"I got a call from my coach at Francis Marion," Mincey said. "He said, 'Jamie Bennett's going to call you from the Schaumburg Boomers, if you're interested.' He called me, asked me if I was interested in coming and playing in spring training. I said, 'Let me think about it.' I called him back in five minutes."
Mincey made the team out of spring training and has been lights out all season, allowing 0 runs and 6 hits in his first 18 innings. He surrendered his first runs of the season on July 2 in a game that the Boomers ended up winning.
Several major league teams have called to inquire about him, and Mincey is likely to become the first Boomers player to sign a contract with an MLB team.
On Wednesday, Mincey was named to the Fronttier League All-Star team along with two teammates,
infielder Frank Pfister and pitcher Cameron Roth.
Bennett will manage the West Division and get to name more three players to the team on Thursday. The Frontier League All-Star Game will take place at The Corn Crib stadium in Normal, Ill., on July 11.
Two Frontier League pitchers Max Peterson (Southern Illinois) and Dustin Umberger (River City) both received enough votes to make the all-star team but each had their contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox earlier this week.
Mincey, originally from Hartsville, S.C., has worked his way from junior college to Division II college ball to the independent league. Bennett believes his fearlessness has helped give him the opportunity to play affiliated minor league baseball.
"To come in and make the jump from that type of competition to this competition and having the success he did, hats off to him, because he's worked hard," Bennett said.
Mincey's pitches top out in the upper 80s, so he doesn't overpower batters with speed. Instead, he has spent the season working on attacking the strike zone and hitting spots with his pitches, trusting his defense to back him up when the ball is in play.
"He doesn't give up hits, he doesn't walk people, he doesn't get behind in the count," Boomers pitching coach Paul Kubon said. "He's one of those guys who's just, 'Give me the ball and I'm gonna throw strikes.' "
Part of Mincey's effectiveness comes from his unconventional style of delivery. He throws from three different arm slots, which allows him to throw from different angles to keep batters off-balance.
"He hides that ball and the hitter doesn't see that ball until it's coming right out of his hand, where some guys kind of get long with it, and the hitter can eyeball it and see it," Kubon said. "But with Mincey, it's just a big explosion. They get real late reads on his pitches."
Despite the improvement in his statistics over last year's numbers, Mincey said his approach hasn't changed much, other than an improved conditioning regimen that has helped his arm recover better.
Because of his effectiveness, Bennett allows Mincey to throw to both right- and left-handed hitters, while his college coaches, based on his right-handed sidearm motion, usually limited him to facing righties. The Schaumburg manager's trust has paid off so far.
"Whoever's up there, we feel confident with him," Bennett said. "He's one of those guys that doesn't overthink things. He throws, and ignorance is bliss sometimes."
With Mincey likely to play in the all-star contest next week before many MLB scouts, Kubon is already planning for the second half of the season under the assumption that Mincey won't be around.
As usual, Mincey is patiently waiting for his next opportunity.
"It's always in the back of your mind," Mincey said. "You want to get into affiliated ball. I guess I try to stay humble out there every time, and just act like it's the last time I get to play."