FARMINGTON— Only a handful of people can say they've earned the opportunity to play professional baseball. And now Farmington's Jon Mestas can say he has.
The 2008 graduate from Farmington High recently signed with the Windy City Thunderbolts, a minor league team located in Crestwood, Ill.
The Thunderbolts, who are not affiliated with a major league team, took Mestas in the third round of the Frontier League draft with the 30th overall pick.
"It's really been a dream come true," Mestas said. "It really is perfect. I couldn't ask for anything else."
For the Thunderbolts, Mestas has returned to his natural position of shortstop, but has also bounce around the field as needed.
"I've been everywhere," said Mestas, who has also seen time at third base and in the outfield. "Moving up, especially at this level a lot of the coaches want to see a lot of versatility, so being able to move around, jumping to all three of the infield and being able to play in the outfield, it really helps my stock go up a lot."
Before signing with Windy City Mestas played at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, where as a junior and senior he combined for a .268 batting average and a .949 fielding percentage in 111 games. While at UB Mestas tied the school record by appearing in 57 games in a season.
As his senior season came to a close Mestas was optimistic his name would be called during the 2013 MLB draft.
"I really thought I was going to be a late-round guy," Mestas said. "We were heading into our playoffs in college and the prospect list for the top 100 infielders in college came out and I made the list, so I thought I had a really good chance of going pretty of high, late 20s to middle of the 30s, somewhere around there."
The middle rounds of the draft began but Mestas' phone remained silent. More rounds passed and still no pro teams called.
"As the days had gone on and on I was waiting for that phone call that never came," Mestas said. "When the draft was over I was kind of disappointed. I felt like I could have been a late-round guy."
Despite not getting the much anticipated phone call Mestas didn't give up on his dream of playing professional ball. He worked with his agent to set up free-agent deals with MLB teams and worked out for the Reds and Indians. But no contracts came.
Mestas had been in contact with a scout from the Texas Rangers who said the next step would be joining a winter league. Mestas took the advice and move to California to compete.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Mestas said. "We played almost every single day for about two months and we played about 25 games, which allowed us to show the coaches what we could do."
Mestas took advantage of the opportunity, leading his team in RBIs and average, hitting close to .400.
"The first week I was there, the Rangers scout, he came up and talked to me after a game and then he talked to Ron Bigga, who is our head coach at Windy City. He told Ron, 'Hey, we need to get Jon on your team.' After that, Ron offered me a contract to come play."
Before moving to Illinois, Mestas returned to Farmington to get ready for spring training. He practiced with FHS head coach Sean Trotter, and Strike Zone's Adam Morrissey, who told him what to expect during the season.
Mestas said that with Trotter and Morrissey's guidance he was more prepared and gained an advantage over the other rookies on the Windy City roster.
As of June 9, Mestas has appeared in 12 of the Thunderbolt's 21 games, batting .250. He said being on a team of mostly veteran players he knew he'd be used as a utility player and would see limited time on the field.
"Our team is full of veterans who are great players," Mestas said. "We have a couple former All-Americans, a couple of guys from big universities, Texas, Arkansas, big time players, big time veterans who I've been trying to soak in a lot of knowledge from, and they've been nothing but helpful."
After having his dream of playing professional baseball realized, Mestas' sights are now set on moving up to an MLB affiliated team.
But he'll have to keep waiting.
With the 2014 MLB draft come and gone, Mestas' phone once again did not ring.
"I see a bunch of guys that I played with, teammates, former teammates and buddies of mine get drafted, and it gets me motivated," Mestas said. "It's not discouraging at all. If anything it makes me want to work harder."
For now, he'll keep working and hope to draw the attention of a few more scouts throughout the Thunderbolts season.
"I have a lot to look forward to," Mestas said. "I'm in a great situation right now and I feel like if I handle my business I'll be in that affiliated program."