KANSAS CITY -- Royals rookie right-hander Alec Mills was at the recent MLB/MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program and talked about his Major League debut last season, among other topics.
Mills, 25, pitched in three games for the Royals, posting a 13.50 ERA. But the coaching staff and front-office personnel remain high on Mills, who is Kansas City's No. 8 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
MLB.com: You've had an unusual journey, going from college walk-on to 22nd-round Draft pick to having Tommy John surgery early in your career. What was that climb like?
Mills: The struggle has made it even more special. I don't know if there was ever any doubt, but there's times you're tough on yourself: "Is this really going to happen? Is this dream going to come true?" But yes, it's special.
MLB.com: You came from the University of Tennessee at Martin. First to make it to the big leagues from that program. How much pride do you take in that?
Mills: Actually, it's pretty awesome. That might be the first time I heard that. I'm thankful for everything Martin did for me. I think being a walk-on there and going to a lesser established program gave me more opportunity to pitch and get better. The only way you get better is in game situations.
MLB.com: Scouts talk about your control, your fastball. What do you have to work on to get back to the big leagues and stay there?
Mills: Make pitches. Control every pitch you have. When I was up there [in the Majors], I walked quite a few people, hit some guys. I don't know if it was nerves or just adjusting. It's about putting any pitch anywhere you want.
MLB.com: What number do you prefer?
Mills: Well, I had 63 with the Royals. I didn't really get to choose that. Growing up I was either 21 or double-zero. I don't know where that double-zero came from.
MLB.com: What big leaguers who you haven't faced would you like to face?
Mills: I don't know. It's kind of funny. It would have been kind of nice to face David Ortiz, but they pulled me out right before that. Probably good because he probably would have hurt me.
MLB.com: If you get a big league at-bat, what would your walkup music be?
Mills: Talking about it kind of makes me nervous because I haven't picked up a bat in a long time. I have no idea. Maybe something country to go back to my Tennessee roots.
MLB.com: Do you have a celebrity lookalike?
Mills: I don't think I look like him, but people in high school said I looked like [the movie character] Napoleon Dynamite. Maybe because I acted like him and tried to be the goofball.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.