Apr 4, 2016

Former Mets First Round Draft Pick: Lastings Milledge (2006-2007)

Lastings Darnell Milledge was born on April 5th, 1985 in Bradenton, Florida. When he was 12 years old he played for the Manatee East Little League team that was runner up in the Little League World Series. He pitched the semifinal game, earning the victory allowing just one run. 

In 2004 he led Team USA to a Gold Medal in the IBF’s Youth Championships & was named the best 16 year old prospect in the country by Baseball America.

Milledge was drafted by the Mets first round in 2003 draft, the number 12 pick overall. He would have been drafted sooner but teams were afraid to touch him due to problems from his past. Reports surfaced from 2002 saying that Milledge had been expelled from Northside Christian High School after his junior year for allegedly having sex with a minor.

He did well in the Mets minor leagues system, hitting over .300 and being dubbed a natural five tool player. In 2006 he was getting a lot of media attention as the future of the Mets outfield and was batting leadoff & playing right field for the Norfolk Tides.

As the Mets were flying high in 2006, Milledge was brought up on May 30th to a huge ovation at Shea Stadium. He was the youngest player to suit up in the National League as he made his debut. He doubled in his first game against the Arizona Diamond Backs.

On June 4th he hit his first MLB HR getting three hits while driving in three runs against the Giants at Shea. The HR tied the game, & it came against former Mets closer Armando Benitez. But Milledge had troubles right away, when he left the dugout on his way to his outfield position, he was so excited he slapped fans with high fives along the way. The media was all over him as were his manager & the team’s veterans players.

On the next road trip to Los Angeles Milledge got four hits, with another HR & five RBIs in the three game series. He began to cool off at the plate but was still showing off on the field. In September he found a sign on his locker that read: “Know your place, Rook”, it was reported Billy Wagner had placed it there. Milledge finished the year batting .241 with 4 HRs 7 doubles & 22 RBIs in 56 games played. He did not make the post season roster.

In 2007 he began the year with the club but a foot injury got him a demotion to make room on the roster for Mike Pelfrey. He returned in July, as the Mets demoted Julio Franco to make room for him.

Milledge arrived with more drama surrounding him when it was learned he appeared on a rap song using inappropriate language, along with making racial & sexual derogatory remarks.

The Mets spoke out issuing the following statement "We disapprove of the content, language and message of this recording, which does not represent the views of the New York Mets." In 59 games he hit .272 with 7 HRs 9 doubles & 29 RBIs. In the winter of 2007 he was traded away to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Church & Brian Schneider.

In Washington he played under his former coach Manny Acta, there he stole 24 bases batting .268 with 14 HRs & 61 RBIs in 138 games played.

In 2009 he gave up his number with the arrival of Adam Dunn and took the number 85, the year of his birth. He only hit .167 and was sent down to AAA. By June he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and developed his own fan base there in the outfield known as “The Milledge People”. He finished 2009 batting .279 overall showing improvement in his work ethic.

In 2010 he got into 113 games batting .277 as the Pirates fourth outfielder. In May in a game against the Chicago Cubs he thought he hit his first HR of the year. He didn’t see the ball land on the top of the fence & when he heard the fireworks go off he rounded the bases with a HR trot. To his surprise a throw came in from the outfield & he was tagged out. The umpires officially ruled it a ground rule double. He finished the year batting .277 with 4 HRs 21 doubles & 34 RBIs stealing five bases.

The Pirates did not resign him & he went to the Chicago White Sox organization for 2011 only playing two games at the MLB level. 

In 2012 he began playing in Japan in the JPCL for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. He hit .300 with 21 HRs & 65 RBIs. He is signed there through 2015.

In his six year MLB career he is a .269 hitter with 404 hits 73 doubles 8 triples 33 HRs 167 RBIs 40 stolen bases & a .328 on base %.

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