Former Belleville East catcher gets promoted to big leagues by Washington Nationals

The road to Major League Baseball is undoubtedly long and full of unpredictable twists and turns. But as of Monday, it runs directly from West Boulevard on the east end of Belleville to South Capitol Street in Washington, DC.

The Washington Nationals selected the contract of catcher Drew Millas, promoting the Belleville East alum to the big leagues for the first time. Millas, who is Washington’s 23rd ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, also attended Missouri State before being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the seventh round of the 2019 MLB Draft.

He was traded from Oakland to Washington in a 2021 deadline deal which saw the rebuilding Nationals send veterans Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison to the A’s.

Millas made his big league debut during the Nationals’ 6-3 loss in Toronto Monday. Pinch hitting in the top of the ninth for left fielder Alex Call against former St. Louis Cardinals’ reliever Jordan Hicks, Millas grounded out to the first baseman.

Millas, 25, started this season at Double-A Harrisburg before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester. Between the two leagues, he’s recorded a .291 batting average and .390 on base percentage, paired with seven home runs.

A switch hitter, Millas is well regarded as a receiver and should have a significant opportunity in the season’s closing weeks to prove to the Nationals that he should factor into their big league plans in 2024.

When he first appears in a game, Millas will become the first major leaguer to have graduated from a Belleville high school since right-handed pitcher Randy Wells, who coincidentally turned 41 on Monday.

Millas and Wells are both Lancers; the last Belleville West Maroon to appear in the majors was slugging first baseman Brian Daubach, who last appeared for the New York Mets in 2005. Daubach was Millas’ hitting coach in Rochester.

Millas’ promotion comes less than a month since the death of his grandfather, Larry Patton, who was a long-time baseball coach at East.