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It's back to Twins for de San Miguel
Heat catcher returns to original organisation for 2015 season
04/20/2015 9:54 PM ET
Allan de San Miguel last played in the Twins system in 2011.
Allan de San Miguel last played in the Twins system in 2011. (Kevin Pataky/

BUFFALO, NY - For Allan de San Miguel, the most recent Australian Baseball League season was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. 

Starting off slow, the 27-year-old's Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat squad eventually returned to form and captured their fourth league title in the five years of the revamped circuit. De San Miguel was named the Most Valuable Player in the ABL Championship Series, and - of course - winning a championship will always be a highlight. 

"It never gets old, I'll tell you that," he said. "Every year, we all love coming home and playing with each other. We have our seasons over here in the States, and then we come home, and it's something really special back home. It's a huge band of brothers and we all love playing with each other. We all love having barbeques, hanging out with each other's families, and we all stick together. 

"We've been like that since we were 15 years old, because we've all been together - the core group with me, [Daniel] Schmidt, the Kennellys, [Luke] Hughes, [Warwick] Saupold - we've all been together, and we want to keep it that way because it's fun. We all love ragging on each other and having fun, and when it comes to being on the field, you can't beat it. Looking around and seeing that I'm going to play with these guys for the rest of my life, you can't beat that." 

In transition
But as the winter league began to wind down and the backstop still hadn't secured a job for the season overseas -- coming off of his first year out of affiliated baseball where he played for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the independent Atlantic League -- it was all he could do to stop wondering what his future might hold. 

"This year was a low point because I didn't know if I was going to be playing anymore," de San Miguel said. "I came home after playing in [independent] ball - and I didn't even put up very good numbers in indy ball - and I was a little frustrated. I go home and have to try and find myself. 

"Am I going to have a career next year? Am I going to start coaching? Am I going to just work a normal job for the rest of my life? All those decisions were going through my mind. That was a tough point in my life. Last year I had a tough year, but you've just got to keep at it. You can't give up. You've got that dream and it's still there, so that's what's going to keep motivating you and pushing you." 

After being released by the Colorado Rockies on the last day of Spring Training last year, de San Miguel immediately took the offer from the Blue Crabs to head to Waldorf, Maryland and keep playing. This January, the 5-foot-9, 205-pound catcher actively sought out a way to get back to affiliated Minor League ball, exploring multiple avenues to just remain in the game. 

"It was tough because I really didn't know what I was going to do," de San Miguel said. "I came home, I was in great shape, I was ready to play, I knew I had to have a really good ABL year, and then would see what happened from there. It was a really tough time because I didn't get job offers from anyone and I was stressing a little bit. 

"Then I started making a lot of phone calls after Christmas. I eventually called my last lifeline, the [Minnesota] Twins, and called Howie [Norsetter, Minnesota's International Scouting Coordinator] and said, 'I need a job. Is there anything you can do for me? If it's playing or coaching, I don't care. I'll do it.' 

"It was tough down there playing indy ball. I had a great time but I felt like I couldn't go anywhere from it. But I was happy I finally signed a contact with the Twins and now I'm here."

Familiar surroundings
"Here" happens to be with the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Twins. This stint is de San Miguel's third with the squad after originally signing with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2004 at just 16 years old. 

"Growing up with an older bunch of guys when I was 14 and 15, playing local club ball in our state league, in A grade back home, helped me," he said. "They were all 30-year-old guys and I was 15 playing with them, so I had to learn to grow up really quick and try to mature. I hadn't signed yet, but I was good enough to play so I had to grow up. You can't act like a little kid around adults. That really helped me mature a lot, and then I signed at 16 and I was playing with the older Claxton Shield guys as well. 

"That's the biggest thing with me being older now - we still have to try and force that so the younger kids [in Australia] who are signed grow up quick. When you get over here, it's a dog-eat-dog world. It's no kids' game. It's an adults' game." 

In his 11th Minor League season, the Western Australian has posted a .230/.343/.359 slash line with 55 home runs, 109 doubles, four triples and 310 RBI in 706 professional games between 10 teams and five organizations, including his indy ball stint and his winters back home. He's made a lot of memorable moments along the way. 

"In Australia, winning all those championships; winning MVP of that last series was a really big high point," de San Miguel said. "And any time I can represent the country. The WBC was awesome, and whenever you put on the Aussie uniform that's a massive high point in your career. You wear it with pride because you know five million other kids want to be in your shoes. You remember that every other kid wants to be doing what you're doing and they look up to you, so it's a special moment. 

"In the States, I've been to many big league [Spring Training] camps, I've been playing baseball here for a long time, and I enjoy it. Any time I'm in the States it's a high point, it doesn't matter if you're in Rookie ball or wherever, you love it. Any kid back home, or any American, would be dying to be in your shoes, so you make sure you keep working your butt off and no one takes your job." 

Starting the International League season on the disabled list, the job de San Miguel is looking to keep this year is with the Red Wings, where he shares a very enjoyable clubhouse with fellow Aussie, Victorian James Beresford. 

"It's really exciting," de San Miguel said of the squad in Rochester. "I was talking to Jimmy and we were joking around, and it actually feels like a little bit of back home in Perth. We all have a great time, we all hang out together after the games, and we all make sure it's kind of like a family.

"It's going to be a good year. And an exciting one. I'm looking forward to it."  

Alexis Brudnicki is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis. This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.