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Published On: January 20th, 2015

A Look at Chinooks in the Minor Leagues

Donnie Hissa  – Milwaukee Brewers – Helena Brewers (Rookie)

HissaHeadshotDuring the summer of 2013, Iron River, Wisconsin native Donnie Hissa quietly improved and provided consistent innings for the Lakeshore Chinooks as he racked up a team-high six wins and helped lead the club to its first-ever NWL playoff appearance. Used mostly as a relief pitcher in two seasons at Notre Dame, Hissa was invaluable to Lakeshore manager Eddy Morgan, who used him out of the pen, but also allowed the 6’7 right-hander to start seven games. Hissa came through with a complete game win over the Wisconsin Woodchucks on July 6, 2013 in which he stuck out eleven batters. Hissa’s memorable performance also happened to be in front of eighteen members of his. “It's not too often that my family gets to come out to my baseball games, so that was a really special moment for me,” recalls Hissa.

Hissa finished as one of Morgan’s most reliable pitchers as he also pitched a shutout inning in the Northwoods League’s first-ever Big League Dreams Showcase, a showcase event featuring top NWL players as selected by major league scouts, and was Morgan’s choice to pitch against the Madison Mallards in the final game of Lakeshore’s first-ever playoff series. Hissa pitched six strong innings, giving up no runs on five hits and recording four strikeouts, only to see the Chinooks falter in the final innings. Although quiet and reserved, Hissa left a tremendous impression upon the Lakeshore faithful and returned to Notre Dame determined to build upon his summer success. After turning in a solid season in the Irish bullpen, he was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 21st round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Milwaukee selected Hissa after watching him pitch the entire summer in their backyard.

Hissa’s junior season was his best with the Irish, as he led the team in appearances and saves after being inserted into the role of closer. Hissa then signed with the Brewers in June and fulfilled a childhood dream. “It has been a dream of mine to play professionally, now it’s come true,” says Hissa.  And the Brewers were the perfect fit, as the Hissa family has been long-time fans of the Brewers. “My dad was on the phone for two hours straight talking to people telling them the news,” Hissa said. “My mom was just as happy.”

Hissa was assigned to the Brewers Rookie Team in Helena, Montana where he got his first taste of pro ball by appearing in 15 games and pitching 19 innings and now faces an off-season in which he must make steady improvement to keep his career alive. “For the off-season I have been living in Los Angeles where my girlfriend is from and working out at a local baseball facility. I'm also coaching a 12-under baseball team, giving pitching lessons, and tutoring in math to help cover my expenses, says Hissa. And by the time he heads to Arizona in March, Hissa plans to have command of three pitches that he can throw with consistency.  It’s not a glamourous or easy route, but for now, Hissa has an opportunity!