Earlier in the day, the Milwaukee Brewers signed undrafted prospect Matthew Mika out of the University of Central Florida. As a student at UCF, I have had the privilege of watching him play for the past two seasons. He quickly became my favorite player, and I know the same is true for many other Knights fans.
While the Knights had three players drafted in this years draft, Mika wasn’t one of them. This came as a surprise to some, as Mika was one of the most dominant players at UCF not only in his senior season, but also throughout his career. He finished second in the American Conference in stolen bases in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He led the conference in that category during his senior season. Mika had a respectable .373 on base percentage during his junior year. In his final season at UCF, Mika set career highs in batting average, hits, runs, doubles, home runs, walks, RBIs, and stolen bases. All this led to an impressive .319/.448/.502 triple slash and .950 OPS.
Beyond his performance at the plate, Mika also impressed with his glove. This is probably best exemplified by his .982 fielding percentage in fifty one summer league games in 2017. He also finished with 441 assists and 90 double plays turned over his four year career, good for sixth and eighth respectively in Knights history.
The most impressive thing about Matthew Mika may be the way he plays the game. He always gives everything he’s got at the plate, in the field, and on the base paths. When in the dugout, he always is the one to provide the energy for the team. Mika is also a phenomenal person off the field, as I have experienced personally and through many fellow Knights fans. He is a super nice player, and truly cares about the game and his fans. It isn’t hard to see why he is a crowd favorite.
The best comparison I can think of for Mika is Jeff McNeil. Although he was drafted, McNeil was never considered a top prospect. Both Mika and McNeil have similar plate presences, as they both are high average guys with above average BB/K ratios. Both players had to grind to get to where they are now. Mika is a bit more aggressive on the bases, while McNeil is a bit more versatile defensively. Most importantly, they are both players with great attitudes and who are fan favorites.
Mika’s two biggest weaknesses are his power and his age. While his draft value was probably a bit lower due to playing in the American Conference, he also may have gone undrafted because of these two things. However, he showed a bit more pop in his final season, and that can be further developed in the minors. Additionally, Mika signed on his twenty-third birthday (not a bad way to celebrate a birthday). While he is a bit on the older end, I don’t think it takes so much value away.
While the impact of the signing may not be obvious now, I believe it will show itself in the future. I think that Mika will develop into a fairly good player, and at the very least a fan favorite. He may not turn into a superstar, but Mika will work hard to become one, and I will bet he outplays expectations. Call me a biased UCF fan, but I think the Brewers made a great signing.
“Photo Credit: UCF Knights”