Gainesville High graduate Will Maddox has had a number of successes in his minor league baseball career but is still yearning for a whole lot more.
He’s coming off a successful 2018 season in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system, where he hit .300 for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. The fleet-footed middle infielder had 17 doubles and 41 RBIs in his first full season with the Double-A club.
After such steady production, it’s entirely possible the 26-year-old make the jump to Detroit’s Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in 2019.
Still, he’s not going to be satisfied until he makes it to the big show.
“I’m not worrying about where I’m at or where I’m playing, because I’m not in Detroit yet,” he said. “Until I’m there, I’m not where I want to be.”
Taking a break from the grind of training and playing, Maddox spent a week home working the Ozone Christmas Camp at Riverside Military Academy. The camp is headed by Micah Owings, who spent six seasons in the big leagues, along with his older brother, Josh, and younger brother, Jon Mark.
The holidays are a nice time to relax for Maddox. However, as soon as the presents are opened, the three-year standout at the University of Tennessee will continue his training and workouts in Knoxville, Tenn.
During his five seasons in the minor leagues, Maddox has never finished a year with lower than a .270 average as he’s risen the ranks from rookie league up to Double-A.
His best season was in 2016, hitting .339 with 58 RBIs for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps.
As a minor league ball player, Maddox is used to keeping his suitcase packed. Players can be moved up and down with just a moments notice.
During the 2017 season, Maddox got the bump up to Double-A while on a road trip with the Advanced Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. After a three-hit outing, Maddox got called into the manager’s office to learn he was moving up.
“They said ‘You’re going up to Erie. You’ve done well here,’” Maddox said. “And it’s that simple. Pack your bags, and you head out that night. It’s crazy.”
Maddox packed up his things and rushed to the airport, arriving in Erie, Pennsylvania “either super late or super early in the morning.” Three days later, he was in the lineup for the SeaWolves.
But such is life for any minor league baseball player vying for a spot in the big leagues.
“You just kind of take it as it comes, and you just take it one day at a time,” Maddox said. “That’s all you can really do is just take it one day at a time and hope you’re going in the right direction and not the wrong direction.”
Maddox has been moving in the right direction since he entered the league in 2014, an 18th-round pick out of Tennessee who decided to forego his senior season.
No matter the location, the mindset is the same for the former Red Elephant.
“Just grinding every day, day in and day out,” Maddox said. “Not taking anything for granted. Not getting comfortable. I think that’s the hardest thing, is yeah, you’re somewhere where you get moved up, but you’re still trying to get to Detroit.”