Every day that Caleb Marquez wakes up and gets his day started, he has to stop for a moment and collect his thoughts.
That’s because one of the newest members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization still can’t believe he’s a professional baseball player.
“I’m still getting used to it – being a professional baseball player,” said Marquez, a 2018 graduate of Blue Springs High School who earlier this week was named to the Missouri State High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state squad as a first-team catcher. “It’s like, I wake up and think, ‘I’m playing pro ball.’ That’s my profession, and that’s pretty cool.”
When he got the news he was selected by the Brewers in the 39th round of this year’s Major League Baseball Draft, hugs and smiles abounded at the family’s Blue Springs home. And he still has plenty to smile about.
“It’s still hard to get a hold of the fact that my job is playing the game I love,” explained Marquez, who was also an all-state tight end for the Wildcats football team. “I’ve played sports all my life and I’ve worked hard to make this dream come true.
“Now, it just takes a little getting used to, I guess.”
Marquez is playing in the Brewers rookie league, which consists of four games a week, packaged around a variety of daily practice sessions in Glendale, Arizona.
“They have a hotel and apartment for the guys to live in, and I have two roommates and we live in the apartment,” Marquez said. “We’ll play two home games and two away games and they keep us busy with practices the rest of the time.
“It’s all pretty cool because we’re training, working out and playing in the Brewers spring training facility and it is so nice. I mean, anything you could want or ask for, they have. It’s rookie ball, but it’s a big league facility.”
It didn’t take Marquez long to feel like a pro player as he was 1-for-4 with a single and strikeout in his first pro game.
“I’ve played in three games and caught one game and DH’d in the others,” he said. “The difference between pro ball and high school ball is pretty amazing.
“In high school, there were some pitchers you just knew you were going to hit. And in a high school game, I had to be ready to see maybe one or two fastballs – because pitchers weren’t going to challenge me on a regular basis.
“Here, you get challenged on every pitch! It’s like 93, 94, 95 mph with every pitcher. You have to go up thinking fastball, because down here, that’s pretty much all you see. And I like that. That’s a challenge for me and I’m ready for every challenge that I face.”
He chuckled when asked if he had signed his first autograph.
“Not yet,” Marquez said, “unless you count one for my dad. It was cool to have my mom and dad and step-dad come down to watch me play. It was good being around my family. They mean so much to me.
“Mom and dad have always been there for me and my stepmom Ashley (who stayed home to watch his younger brother) and step-dad Michael (Shawhan) are all part of the family. To get started down here, and have my family here, really made the transition to professional baseball a lot easier for me.”
The rookie league runs through Aug. 28, and could extend into the postseason.
“We all hope we get into the playoffs,” Marquez said. “As the season winds down, I’ll find out if I stay down here for the instructional league or get to come home. Whatever they want me to do, I’m ready.”