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Watching ex-teammate Pfaadt, Astros’ Miley chasing same goal

Houston Astros' Deylen Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks' Brandon Pfaadt
Deylen Miley and Brandon Pfaadt | Courtesy of Deylen Miley

On the October stage, a rookie can represent the difference in parades or heartbreak. This season, the Arizona Diamondbacks struck riches in rookie pitcher Brandon Pfaadt, a 2020 fifth-round pick out of Bellarmine.

In its existence, Bellarmine has produced three major leaguers and seen nine players drafted and five others signed as undrafted free agents. Pfaadt was the first Bellarmine product to reach the big leagues since Todd Wellemeyer in 2003, but he wasn’t the last former Knight to join an organization.

The Houston Astros signed undrafted Bellarmine pitcher Deylen Miley in 2021. Miley wrapped up his second full season in Houston’s system this past year as the righty made 25 appearances for High-A Asheville.

Miley is two stops away from the major leagues, a leap from becoming the fourth Bellarmine Knight to reach the highest stage. But for Miley, it’s not just chasing the childhood goals; it’s also reflecting on what his former rotation mate has accomplished.

“Seeing Brandon up there, chatting with him here and there throughout the season and now seeing how he went zero to hero and almost a Dbacks legend, it’s not only humbling, knowing who he is as a person outside of baseball and how he conducts himself, but it’s definitely motivating,” Miley said.

In 2020, Pfaadt spearheaded Bellarmine’s weekend rotation, one that ranked in the top five of NCAA Division II. Miley followed two days later for Sunday action, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the promise the rotation held. Yet even with a canceled season, Pfaadt put himself on the map for professional organizations.

He pitched himself into top-prospect rankings by his second full season and climbed to the big leagues this past year. From a school that turned to Division I after he left, Pfaadt reopened a path for others like Miley to conquer.

“I shouldn’t say it’s surreal anymore,” Miley said. “That’s our goal and that’s our plan. He shot right up and took care of business. It definitely is motivating and satisfying to know that it can happen coming from a smaller college like Bellarmine.”

Now pitching in the World Series, Pfaadt’s accomplishments struck motivation in Miley. Admiration for work ethic and humbleness grabbed Miley’s attention over the last four years, even with the two separated by thousands of miles.

“Cliches are cliches for a reason, but if you want it to happen, you work hard enough,” Miley said. “It’s attainable. Anything’s possible.

Houston Astros' Deylen Miley

Deylen Miley | Credit: Nicho Nelson

Miley transferred to Bellarmine after his sophomore season at Tiffin in 2018. Although moving within Division II, Miley did his research. He leaped in terms of prominence in a conference and went somewhere that built trust in himself to pitch at the next level.

At his tryout that summer, Miley pitched to a recent graduate catcher, Brady Pfaadt, brother of Brandon. Miley then got his first taste of what the Pfaadt family meant to not just Bellarmine but to Louisville, Kentucky.

“They’re a very well established family,” Miley said. “From their grandpa being at Bellarmine, their dad playing at Bellarmine, their mom playing at Louisville, there’s a lot of history in that family.”

Miley finished his third season in Houston’s system last month. After a promising first half, Miley lost track of what worked after the All-Star break, battling his way to the finish line in September.

The 25 year old still struck out the sixth-most batters in the South Atlantic League with 120, posting a 5.81 ERA for the Tourists.

“It’s awesome to say it’s a job, and if you don’t keep that at the forefront enough, you can really lose track of how awesome the experience is as a whole,” Miley said. “You got to roll with the punches and just keep your eyes on the prize, keep the nose down and keep working.”

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