As we age, one of the hardest realizations is that our childhood dreams will likely not come true. For sports fans who dreamed of playing pro ball, it seems that in no time at all, the best players look like kids and those your age are labeled “grizzled veterans.”
But for one Saugerties teen, that won’t be the case. Eighteen-year old Michael Dodig, who graduated from Saugerties High School last year, and attended Columbia-Green Community College this year, has been drafted by the Atlanta Braves professional baseball team.
This is a goal that Dodig, who learned the game from his dad, Michael, has dreamed of all his life.
Last week, Dodig, who was a standout for the Sawyers and this spring for Columbia-Greene, was selected in the 10th round (329th overall) in the major league amateur draft.
“I had a pretty good idea that I was going to be drafted,” Dodig said from his Florida hotel room, “but to go in the 10th round – that was pretty cool.”
Dodig, a third baseman, will be playing for the Braves in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. Dodig described the rookie league as a Class A league team, much like the Hudson Valley Renegades, just a few rungs lower on the ladder.
“This is the next step for Michael,” said his dad, who taught his son how to throw, catch and hit.
“It’s fulfilling – he’s put in a lot of hard work. Ever since we started playing catch, he always said that he wanted to play professional baseball,” the elder Dodig said. “He was always a strong baseball player, and you could see that he had that something special that you need.”
The younger Dodig said that he had been scouted by both the Braves and the Cincinnati Reds, and participated in tryouts for both. But being selected by the Braves, a team for which his idol plays for, “is just something special.”
Like most youngsters growing up in the shadow of New York City, Dodig was a Yankee fan, but his favorite player wasn’t Jeter, or Mattingly, it was Atlanta Braves third baseman Larry “Chipper” Jones, the seven-time All Star, National League MVP, and National League Batting Champion.
“This is just so great,” Dodig said.
And while this year is a learning year for him, Dodig said he will be doing everything he can to be a starter this summer.
The Gulf Coast League begins play this month and concludes in September. “It’s a short 60-game schedule,” Dodig said.
After the season, he can come home or continue to work on his skills, because the big test begins next year, when Dodig will attend Atlanta Braves’ spring training camp.
“Next year it all begins,” Dodig said.