Austin Filiere ’18, now a Cub, makes history at the MLB draft
Austin Filiere, course 15-2 major, was selected in the eighth round of the MLB draft, the highest in school history
The 2017 Major League Baseball draft, held on Jun. 12, was historic for MIT, as for the first time in school history, two Engineers were selected. Infielder Austin Filiere ’18 and right-handed pitcher David Hesslink ’17 became the third and fourth Engineers ever to be selected in the MLB draft. The only Engineers before Feiliere and Hesslink to be drafted were Alan Dopfel ’72 and Jason Szuminski ’01, right-handed pitchers drafted by California Angels and the Chicago Cubs, respectively. Szuminski remains the only Engineer to play in the major leagues.
As an Engineer, Filiere has batted .375 with 13 home runs in 36 games. As a freshman, he took over as the starting third baseman for the Engineers and earned a countless number of honors to begin his college career. More recently, Filiere lit up the Cape Cod League in 2016 with his eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 38 games to lead his Harwich Mariners to an East Division championship, earning him the Manny Robello 10th Player Award. Off the field, he is a business analytics major and is currently leading MIT's team in an innumerous number of offensive categories. Filiere’s major in 15-2 and his prowess on the diamond earned him a selection in the eighth round as a third baseman and future general manager by the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
We got a chance to catch up with Filiere after his historic night getting drafted in the eighth round (highest among the three drafted ballplayers from MIT) and asked him about his experiences so far and what he is looking forward to.
The Tech: When did you first realize that baseball was your sport and that's what your passion was?
Filiere: I come from a family that loves sports so I feel like I’ve been playing baseball and other sports for as long as I can remember, but baseball has always been my favorite. No other sport had the same intensity and excitement that baseball brought me.
The Tech: Similarly, when was the first time you realized that you were probably going to be drafted by an MLB team? Did you know how early you would going to get drafted?
Filiere: I started thinking that I was going to get drafted after playing last summer in the Cape Cod League. I knew it was going to be a bit of a long shot since I played in Division III, but I felt comfortable playing in the Cape and just wanted a chance to play pro ball. I really had no idea where I was going to get drafted. I was thinking top 15 rounds, but it’s the draft so you never know.
The Tech: Do you have any specific players, former or current, in the Major Leagues that you look up to or want to model yourself around? And what kind of lessons do you take from them?
Filiere: I love watching baseball, so there are lots of things I like about lots of players. I really like watching Paul Goldschmidt and how he plays the game; I like watching Joey Votto and the at-bats he has; and I like watching and listening to Ted Williams on hitting.
The Tech: There are not a lot of people in the league who can say they went to MIT and got drafted in the early rounds of the MLB draft as a third baseman and general manager. What kinds of skills and experiences has MIT given you thus far that you attribute your unique persona to and how has your time at MIT shaped your career as a ballplayer?
Filiere: Well it would definitely be fun to be a general manager, but hopefully that is a long time away and after a lot of baseball. I got drafted to play baseball, and that is what I want to do. What I have learned in the classroom will definitely help me after my playing career is over, especially if I were fortunate enough to be in a front office setting. I have been fortunate at MIT to be able to hit and work out with a few teammates in the offseason to try to keep getting better. The MIT coaches have also been very supportive, knowledgeable, and helpful.
The Tech: We know that balancing your life between varsity sports and an MIT academic life can be tough, and it's a feeling that might not be relatable to a lot of people in the profession you are now in. What is something you have learned through the process that you plan to take out of your time at MIT and the experience of being on the MIT baseball team?
Filiere: I am excited to just focus on baseball. I have definitely learned time management, as my life was lots of baseball and lots of school for a long time, but now I can just focus on becoming the best baseball player I can be.
The Tech: Explain to us the process of entering the draft and what goes through your mind after you are informed of the results. Obviously, having the unique background that you do, we suppose the thought you put into your career path may look slightly different from the average eighth-round pick. Where are you planning on taking your career?
Filiere: For MLB, you never really enter the draft. A team either selects you or doesn’t (taking into account factors like skill level, age, signability). I had told teams I just wanted to play and would sign for whatever the fair value they evaluated me at was. I am going to play baseball for as long as I can, and then after I will worry about trying to get a job in the front office.
The Tech: Anything extra-special about being drafted by one of the most historic franchises in the sport and the defending World Series champions? As an aspiring GM/executive yourself, what kind of feelings do you have about being drafted by a club that is being run by arguably one of the greatest baseball executives of all time in Theo Epstein?
Filiere: It is definitely cool to be drafted by such a historic franchise, even though I know I would have been excited for anyone to give me a shot to play pro ball. I am just really thankful that the club gave me an opportunity, but it is definitely exciting knowing that Theo Epstein is one of the people leading the Cubs.
The Tech: If you could, please share with us what's going to transpire in the near future. What are your plans for the future as of now and what are some of your ultimate goals as an aspiring executive and ballplayer?
Filiere: I am going to play summer baseball with a Cubs minor league affiliate, and then I am going to finish my degree at MIT in the fall. In the future, obviously my goal is to someday make it to the Major Leagues and then stay there for as long as possible.
Filiere reiterated how grateful he is to his mates in the MIT community — “My teammates and coaches have been my best friends at MIT and I am definitely thankful to have played with/for them,” he added. As he sets off to play baseball on his path to the major leagues, The Tech and the rest of the MIT Engineers followers and community at the school wish him nothing but the best after he graduates this fall.
Update 9/15/17: This article was corrected to include Alan Dopfel ’72 as a former Engineer who got drafted by the MLB.