After his name wasn’t called during June’s MLB Draft, Tracy Hadley’s future in baseball appeared uncertain.
The former Pascagoula star wrapped up his Southern Miss career with the team falling short in the title round of the Hattiesburg Regional, losing twice to rival Mississippi State on June 5.
Hadley admits that he wasn’t that surprised when he wasn’t picked in the draft. Injuries during his junior year and inconsistent playing time as a senior prevented him from getting plenty of innings in front of pro scouts.
However, there was one scout who still believed Hadley deserved a shot as a pro.
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Warren Hughes, a Mobile area scout with the Chicago White Sox, kept a close eye on Hadley since his time at Pearl River Community College and invited him to take part in a tryout.
“A couple of days later, they told me to forget about the workout, come out and play,” Hadley said.
Hadley hopped on a plane on his birthday, June 29, and signed a free agent deal the next day. The versatile and athletic infielder is now suiting up for the Great Falls (Montana) Voyagers in the short-season Pioneer League.
“It shows how great God has been in my life,” Hadley said. “From not being drafted to getting a workout to signing as a free agent, that’s all about what God has done.”
Hadley has played in four games at Great Falls, batting .231 with a pair of RBIs in 13 at-bats. He has played both third and second base.
“It’s going great,” Hadley said. “I can’t complain one bit. I’m going out every day, giving it my all and playing hard. I’ll let the results speak for themselves.”
In college and high school, Hadley was often at his best when his team needed it the most, including a walk-off homer to lift Pascagoula to the South State title in 2012. He also played a sparkling third base to help USM win the Conference USA tournament in 2016 and hit a three-run home run to lift the Golden Eagles to an 8-3 win over South Alabama in the Hattiesburg Regional on June 4.
Hadley played shortstop throughout high school and junior college, but had to learn other positions to get on the field at Southern Miss.
As for where he fits in as a professional, that’s still to be determined.
“To be honest, it doesn’t matter,” Hadley said. “I’m just trying to get in and play every day. I want to move up to the big leagues. That’s my ultimate goal. That’s why my eye is on.
“The numbers don’t show it, but I’m playing real well. It’s good to play and be playing so freely. The numbers are going to come. It’s just so amazing to be able to play.”
Hadley is learning what getting a start in professional baseball entails, including some interesting living arrangements. He is currently living with the family of Will and Sue Stevens.
“They’ve taken me in and made me feel at home,” he said. “They’re making sure me and my roommate are comfortable. I have my own room. They’re taking us everywhere we need to go. I can’t complain.”
Hadley’s roommate is Nolan Brown, a former TCU outfielder.
Over 2,000 miles away from his Pascagoula home, Hadley is adjusting to life in the very different environment of Montana.
“A lot of people complain about how hot it is, but it’s not humid,” Hadley said. “If they want to see hot, they can come to Mississippi. It’s like living in an oven. It rained yesterday and they said it was the first time it had rained in a month. It only rained for 10 minutes. At night, it drops down to the 60’s and even gets cooler sometimes.”
The least favorite part for Hadley so far is the traveling. After never taking more than a 6-hour bus trip at Southern Miss, he and his teammates will soon be stuck on a bus for over 8 hours when the Voyagers travel to Orem, Utah, for a series.
“I’m not a travel guy,” Hadley said. “When I’m on a bus, I get uncomfortable. It’s hard for me to go to sleep, but that’s what comes with it.”
Hadley is hoping to get more starts as the season wears on so he can get the organization’s attention.
“The key to it all is to make yourself known,” he said. “Every day, I’m going to come out and work hard. The more you play and the more you practice, the better you get. There are always scouts watching. No matter who it is, that’s how you move up.”