Switch-hitting with little brother was ticket to pros

When Greg and Philip Miclat would play baseball in their driveway when they were growing up, Greg would turn around and bat left-handed to make things a little more even for his little brother.

At the time, Greg Miclat didn't think about switch-hitting possibly being his ticket to pro ball.

A fifth round pick of Baltimore in 2008, the Jay M. Robinson graduate is in his third year of playing in the Orioles' farm system.

Having started the 2010 season with the High Class A Frederick (Md.) Keys, Miclat was recently promoted to Double A's Bowie (Md.) Baysox.

"One of my goals was to get up to Double A this season," said Miclat, who will turn 23 this month. "It puts me in Double A after only two months so I'm definitely happy about that. I think I'm on the right track."

The Miclats moved to Concord from Charlotte when Greg was in sixth grade. Miclat played a couple years at Northwest Cabarrus Middle and with area traveling teams. It was with the Charlotte Megastars tournament team, coached by former Concord High and current West Rowan coach David Wright, that Miclat got his first taste of switch-hitting.

A natural right-handed hitter, Miclat said he struggled from the left side when he first tried it in eighth grade.

Miclat started at shortstop for the Bulldogs as a freshman. That was just the beginning of a stellar four years at Robinson.

A four-time all-South Piedmont Conference selection, Miclat was named all-Piedmont three times and all-state as a senior. He was Robinson's Male Athlete of the Year as a senior.

A lifelong UNC Tar Heel fan, Miclat loved the idea that he could be playing baseball for them one day.

But at the end of the day, Miclat chose to attend Virginia, where he was promised a better opportunity to play as a freshman.

As a freshman in Charlottesville, Miclat played 57 of 61 games at shortstop and batted .316. He was also named to the Louisville Slugger all-American team.

Miclat had his best season as a Cavalier as a sophomore, when he led the team with a .376 average. A rotator cuff injury hampered his season, limiting him to playing 45 games, being forced to have surgery prior to the ACC Tournament.

Still recuperating from his injury, Miclat didn't consistently play until April of his junior year but Major League scouts were still hot on his path.

By the end of his junior season, Miclat had to decide whether to return for his senior year or turn pro.

With a $225,000 signing bonus thrown his way, Miclat said turning pro was the right financial decision.

In his second season as an Orioles' farmhand, Miclat spent most of 2009 with the Delmarva Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League. That allowed him to visit the Kannapolis Intimidators a couple times last year to play in front of family - including mom and dad, Vicki and Felix - as well as friends.

After having to go through an adjustment period, Miclat has broken out in the 2010 season.

"The movement and location (of pitches) is the biggest difference," said Miclat. "You don't get a lot of straight fastballs, you see a lot of sinkers and sliders."

Before his call-up, Miclat was batting over .300 for Frederick and was selected as a Carolina League All-Star. On his way back from the all-star game , he got a message from his coach about the promotion to Double A.

After a slow start at the plate, Miclat's average was up to .257 after nine games and he recently hit his first professional home run.