Cameron Roegner looks back upon the first two months of his 2018 baseball season very fondly.
He hopes those eight weeks become an even more critical memory as the years go by.
Roegner, a Beloit memorial graduate and current member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization, was absolutely dominant in his first trip through the Carolina League.
Working for the Carolina Mudcats, the Brewers' Advanced-A Minor League affiliate, Roegner went 9-5 with a sparkling 2.16 ERA before being promoted to AA Biloxi.
Included in his stint with the Mudcats was a 28-inning scoreless streak. After nine starts, Roegner sported an infinitesimal 0.68 ERA.
"The first half of last season, even though it was the lowest level I played at of the season, was a real key to my career," Roegner said. "It helped put me on the map and open some eyes of some people higher up on our organization. When I look back when I'm hopefully playing in the big leagues, I think that will be something that I look at as an important three months in my career."
Roegner did get his long-awaited promotion, but before that, he had a unique experience. Because of an immediate need at the big league level, the AAA Colorado Sky Sox had a last-minute opening for a starting pitcher on July 15. Roegner, pitching on regular rest, got the call.
His starting shortstop that day? None other than Orlando Arcia, who was in AAA for a few weeks in an effort to get his bat going.
"It was a really good experience at the time," Roegner said. "It was kind of refreshing for me because it kind of felt like I was stuck in high-A. I was just trying to prove to those guys in AAA that I belonged there and could compete at that level. I got there and the first thing pitching coach Fred Dabney said was 'Hey, no pressure, but we're in first place. Don't blow it.'
He laughed right away and told me not to worry because I had the best shortstop in baseball behind me. It was pretty sweet to have him back there. He made a glove flip play, and to see those on TV is cool, but to have that happen behind me was amazing."
Once back from Colorado, Roegner made two more starts in Carolina before getting the call to AA Biloxi. After pitching a scoreless inning in relief, Roegner's first start went just fine: Six innings, one run. Roegner ended his year in Blioxi with an 0-1 record and a 5.74 ERA that was heavily skewed by one poor outing in which he allowed six runs in 1 2-3 innings. Otherwise, it was the steady Roegner that Brewers fans had grown to enjoy following since he was drafted in the 22nd round in 2016 out of Bradley.
Roegner was promoted again to Colorado Springs for the final week of the season. After a playoff bid fell short, he went back to Biloxi for the Southern League playoffs, where the Shuckers eventually made the championship series before falling.
"Blioxi was a blast," Roegner said. "That was such a talented team. To be there for that playoff run was really exciting. And being there in AAA for that final week was exciting too, even though we lost our last four games and missed out. But getting to throw there in what was basically our elimination game, I love that. You leave college baseball, and you're not really sure if you're ever going to get those high-pressure, the-team-over-me kind of situations. To be able to have that it two different spots was pretty cool."
The success of his big-league club hasn't been lost on Roegner, either. A life-long fan of the Brewers, Roegner would have been cheering, regardless. His personal connection has him even more invested in the team's postseason fate.
"The first year I was drafted, I still watched the team the same way I did when I was a fan," Roegner said. "But now after a few years, getting to know some of these guys, it's really cool."
"Guys like Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, Taylor Williams...those guys are my friends now. Tuning in and seeing those guys pitch in a playoff game, that's exciting."
Roegner is spending his off-season in Colorado, where he is working out at a local gym and getting prepared for what is a critical season for the 25-year old.
"I expect that I'll start the season in Blioxi,' Roegner said. "That seems like the most logical destination. Having a little bit of experience there this year, it might not take as long to get promoted to AAA if I'm throwing well."
With another season like 2018, it's possible Roegner could see those big league dreams realized.