(Dylan Mouzakes is a 2012 graduate of Half Hollow Hills High School West where he starred on the mound. He went on to pitch at Pace University and he pitched in our inaugural Battle of the Border game in 2016. He is currently playing professional baseball. The following words are his own.)
After a solid senior campaign at Hills West (Suffolk County All-Star, All-League, All-County, and Academic All-League) I was still not committed to a college. I received only two athletic scholarships, from Dowling and NYIT, and was determining what direction I wanted to go in with my career. I received a call from Coach Manning, at Pace University, during the summer of 2012 while at a friend’s pool party. He told me that Pace would love to have me and that I had a spot on the team if I decided to attend Pace, but that he couldn’t stack my academic and athletic scholarships. I decided to accept an academic scholarship to attend Pace University as a finance major. Coach Manning was very honest with me and told me that I would have to fight for innings.
I was five-foot-ten freshman with a below average fastball velocity, and I was aware of that. I was joining a team that had endured a lot of success in 2012, and they were returning a lot of experienced players in 2013. I wound up fighting my way into the starting rotation after a couple of good outings in relief. I ended my freshman year 6-0, which is still the freshman win record at Pace. Throughout my sophomore and junior seasons, I continued to take in information about the game, and worked very hard.
When I entered my senior year, I had grown a considerable amount and my velocity made a huge jump. I ended my senior campaign with a record of 7-2, 2.52 ERA, and pitched 78.2 innings with 71 strikeouts.
However, I still wasn’t satisfied at the end of the year and I knew that I had not reached the peak of my career. After graduating I had returned home to coach the Long Island Junior Ducks, and on July 27th (which was also my 21st birthday) I received a call from the Fargo Morehead RedHawks, of the American Association. I spoke to Doug Siminuc, the General Manager, and Jeff Bittiger, who oversees player development for the organization. I flew out to Joplin, Missouri the following day to meet the team, less than 12 hours after receiving this phone call, to start my professional baseball career.
While I was on the plane I started to think about my decision. I had no idea what independent baseball was like, and I was flying across the United States for the first time in my life. But, like many times before I was up for the challenge and ready to help the RedHawks win baseball games. I hopped off the plane in Joplin, and immediately hopped on the bus to the field. This was my first taste of professional baseball, and it was a whole other animal. Most of these players had Triple A and Double A experience in affiliated baseball, and I was just the “college kid.” I ended my first season 2-0, with 22.2 innings, 23 strikeouts, and a 4.76 ERA. I started my second year with Fargo in 2017 and was traded to the Cleburne Railroaders a month-and-a-half into the season. I finished my second season with a 7-8 record, 4.66 ERA, and 100.1 innings with 85 strikeouts.
I am currently back at Pace University during my off-season, finishing up my graduate degree and trying to improve upon my game. I am very thankful for all of the coaches and mentors that have helped me become the person I am today; Tom Migliozzi from Hills West, John Nitti from travel baseball, Tommy Caputo from the Long Island Junior Ducks/Dowling, Hank Manning from Pace, Grisha Davida from Pace, Pete Raimondi from Pace, Doug Simunic from Fargo, Michael Schlact from Fargo, Gabe Suarez from Cleburne, Ed Pruitt from Cleburne, Jeff Bittiger who has been very helpful to me and my career, along with many others. I recently just got back from Seattle, Washington where I trained at Driveline.
I feel fortunate to be able to continue my baseball journey, but my goal has always been to get my shot in affiliated baseball. I am currently signed with the Cleburne Railroaders for the 2018 season. I look forward to the opportunities the future holds as I continue my daily grind to get where I am destined to be.