North Central College's Michael Mateja

North Central College's Michael Mateja, a Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School grad, was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 25th round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

BRADLEY -- Michael Mateja was driving to Rockford to check in with his summer baseball club when his phone started buzzing.

Calls, tweets, direct messages. Nonstop. 

When he answered the first call, of many, his father, George, was on the other line.

"That's how I found out," Mateja said. "He called. I answered. He told me. Such an awesome feeling."

With the 742nd pick in this week's MLB First-Year Player Draft, Mateja had just been selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 25th round. He was able to share the moment with who he calls his "inspiration growing up."

"Dad was ecstatic," Mateja said. "It was awesome to share that moment with him. He was my inspiration growing up and he got me started playing baseball. So to share that moment with him was pretty special."

Mateja, who's a standing junior at North Central College, now has until July 6 to decide whether to sign with the Braves or return for his senior collegiate season.

This past spring, the 2015 Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School graduate earned his second consecutive All-American honor. That award came after he led his team with a .444 batting average alongside 20 doubles, four home runs, 54 runs scored and 38 RBIs.

He was one of 12 players in all of Division III to be selected by an MLB franchise this year.

"To be honest, going into (college), being drafted wasn't a thought," he said. "I just knew I needed to consistently get better, always improve and try to work on my game to the best of my abilities. There's been a lot of hours in the weight room, in the cages ... it's great to see the progression."

If he decides to sign a contract, the third baseman most likely will start his professional baseball career in either Orlando, Florida or Danville, Va.

But no matter where his next destination is, he'll always remember his first.

"Growing up where I did in Bourbonnais, I met so many incredible people and have great friends from there to this day," Mateja said. "In regard to BBCHS baseball, that program really shaped me into who I am today. Coaches, teammates and everybody in between really helped guide me. They were the building blocks to my success. I'm forever grateful for everything they did for me."

Reach Derrick Webb at dwebb@daily-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dw1509 or on Instagram at @TDJsports.

 

Managing Digital Editor

Derrick is the Daily Journal's managing digital editor with an emphasis on covering local sports. He's an Ohio native and loves spending time with family, traveling, and attending MLB games.

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