Every young kid who has stepped out onto a baseball field dreams of playing in the MLB one day. Horseheads senior Mike Limoncelli is living that reality. Mike was chosen in the sixth round of the 2019 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners as the 186th overall pick in this year’s draft. Ready for this next level of competition, Mike plans to give the Mariners his very best.
“ I couldn’t be more excited. They obviously knew I tore my UCL and yet they still took that chance on me. I am going to give this organization everything I’ve got,” Limoncelli said. The day of the draft was momentous in many ways; Mike had Tommy John surgery when the Mariners selected him so he did not find out the news until later that day. When he found out, he and his dad Jeff Limoncelli shared a special moment..
“We had a special father-son moment. We both held each other and cried. I will never forget it,” Jeff said.
Jeff Limoncelli, who has coached his son Mike throughout his career, has seen his boy become a man right in front of his eyes. Jeff has been able to mentor and teach his son the right way to play the game of baseball.
“ It has been a wonderful ride watching Michael grow as a player and a young man,” Jeff said. “Watching his development, how hard he worked, and witnessing his leadership role to the other players has been something I am very proud of.”
Baseball is a long grind during the summer days; it gets very hot, practices are long and it’s difficult to have a social life. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and the right motivation. Mike owes a lot of that to his dad for being there every day, helping to motivate him day in and day out.
“I think that how hard he was on me and his players always made everyone motivated not just me. He’s old fashioned and intense and nowadays it's almost impossible to find a coach like that,” Mike said.
When it comes time for numbers being called, not everyone gets drafted and Mike understands that; baseball is a game that humbles the best of best every day. Mike lives for baseball, he loves everything that baseball is and it is why he has worked so hard to get where he is today.
“I love the game because of how much it differentiates from every other sport. There's no clock or minutes in a quarter, it’s a game where every man gets his shot.”
Mike spoke fondly about the legion program he played for during his summer days in high school.
“Legion ball was fun for me - playing with my best friends and always being around them. It created bonds and friendships that I will never lose.”
Legion baseball gives players a chance to be seen by college and pro scouts. It gives them the exposure that they need to show off their talents and perhaps be just like Mike. It is also a program that grows and develops young men to carry themselves taller and have a direction in life after baseball. Mike is a perfect example of what opportunities await players if they work hard enough!
There is no doubt that both Mike and Jeff have a passion for the game of baseball. Both father and son, coach and player, have worked hard to keep themselves in the game. Jeff talked about what kind of man Mike has become over the years and how he has handled himself.
“Michael has been a role model to kids in our area. Mike has a tremendous work ethic and despite accomplishing a lot athletically, he understands the significance of being a better person,” Jeff said.
So many great stars from the past and present donned a Mariners jersey like Ichiro Suzuki, Randy Johnson, Felix Hernandez and many others, but that doesn’t phase Mike at all. He understands that just like him those players were in his position at one point in time and they had to put the work in to become great.
“Right now I am focusing on becoming the best player I can be. I'm going to work as hard as I can day in and day out.”