UAlbany baseball player Mike Konstanty became the sixth player ever to be drafted during this past year's draft.
Last week, I caught up with Konstanty, who is playing in Billings, Mont., for the Billings Mustangs, a Cincinnati Reds Class A affiliate.
Here's the story that ran on Monday, Aug. 18.
It didn't take long for Mike Konstanty to make history as a professional baseball player.
Fifteen games into his career, Konstanty, the sixth player from the University at Albany to ever be drafted, hit a fifth inning grand slam off of Great Falls left-hander Wilmer Rojas.
The home run, Konstanty's second of the year made the score 9-1 in favor of his team, the Billings Mustangs (Class A Short Season).
It will also be a home run that people in Billings, Mt., will remember for a while because it was the first home run ever to be hit at Dehler Park, the Mustangs new $12.5 million stadium for the 2008 season.
"It was opening night and it was a big night out there," said Konstanty.
The Mustangs had played their first 60 seasons at Cobb Field, which was demolished soon after the 2007 season ended, so that Dehler Park could be formed.
Then, Billings opened with 14 games on the road, so that Dehler's finishing touches could be completed.
It only took five innings though, before Konstanty made a memory that will surely last for quite some time.
"I didn't think too much until after, then it hit me," Konstanty said. "It's an honor to be that guy."
Konstanty was taken with the 1,169th selection in the 39th round by the Cincinnati Reds after a great senior season with the Great Danes.
Primarily playing first base for UAlbany, Konstanty started all 55 games in 2008, batted .295 with 18 doubles and 47 RBI, while also setting the program record with 13 home runs.
"Mike's not only a big time athletic kid, but he's also very hard working," UAlbany baseball coach Jon Mueller said.
Konstanty also played in 39 games during the 2007 season, when the Great Danes made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
"I'm honored to have played at UAlbany," Konstanty said.
The biggest adjustment for many players heading into the professional ranks seems to be getting used to playing every single day – Konstanty agrees.
"The biggest change is the mental aspect, playing every day and grinding it out," Konstanty said.
Konstanty is hitting .265 for the Mustangs in 36 games with seven home runs and 30 RBI through Saturday and although he is happy with how he's played, he thinks all of his offensive statistics could be higher.
"I'm working on things every day and feeling more comfortable," Konstanty said. "But, I'm doing well."
The first two weeks were tough, though, as the Mustangs spent 14 consecutive days playing games on the road.
"It's a pretty tough welcome to minor league baseball," Konstanty said. "You learn quick that you have to keep trying to get better."
At 6-foot-4 and 225-pounds, Konstanty is a powerful right-handed hitter, but it was something he's learned late in his career that has helped him improve as an overall hitter.
He started developing the ability to go the other way, hitting the ball to right field and he says that has opened up more opportunities for him as a hitter.
"If he can create leverage, he can drive the ball," Mueller said. "He has major league power, there's no doubt about it. It's his ability to go the other way which is a sign of his big-time power."
While Konstanty has lived his entire life in New York, growing up in Oneonta and playing at UAlbany, he says Montana isn't too much different.
"The people are somewhat similar in Oneonta," said Konstanty of Montana's largest city which still has fewer than 100,000 people. "It's a small town. The scenery is beautiful and the weather has been great."
The Mustangs assured themselves a spot in the playoffs come September by winning the first half of the Pioneer League's North Division and they are already out to a quick second half.
"We're playing good out here," Konstanty said. "It's nice to win some games."
Konstanty says this season has gone by in a blur, but he's learned a lot and still finds it amazing that's he playing professional baseball.
"It's hard to believe still, that I ended up in Billings, getting paid to play baseball," Konstanty said.