Athletics Alumni Spotlight

Heath Fillmyer and James Pugliese, Baseball



Two former MCCC baseball All-Americans, Heath Fillmyer and James Pugliese have teamed up to help Mercer County Little Leaguers interested in pitching.  


Fillmyer played for MCCC in 2013 and 2014 and was a 5th round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2014 MLB Draft.  Fillmyer was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2013, but returned to MCCC for his sophomore season.  Fillmyer earned NJCAA All-American honors in 2014 and helped lead the Vikings to the NJCAA World Series.  Fillmyer was also named the NJCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year in 2014.  In his 2014 season at MCCC, Fillmyer had 94 strikeouts in 66 innings pitched with a 0.68 ERA.


After spending 2014-2017 in the Minor Leagues, Fillmyer was added to the Oakland A’s 40 man roster in 2017.  Fillmyer played for the Arizona League A’s, Beloit Snappers, Stockton Ports and AA Midland Rockhounds, before being promoted to the Oakland A’s 40 man roster.


In January 2018, Fillmyer was traded to the Kansas City Royals.  Fillmyer made his Major League debut in June 2018 and went on to make twelve starts with the Royals, finishing with a 4.26 ERA.  On August 9, 2018, FIllmyer had his best MLB outing, throwing seven shutout innings vs the Cubs. 


Pugliese played at MCCC in 2011 and earned NJCAA All-American honors that season in addition to being named the Region 19 Player of the Year.  Pugliese was a 18th round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs and spent ten seasons in Minor League baseball from 2011-2021.  In his 2011 season at MCCC, Pugliese had 71 strikeouts in 56.2 innings pitched with a 1.27 ERA for the Vikings.


During his time in the Minor Leagues, Pugliese spent time with the Boise Hawks, Kane County Cougars, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Tennessee Smokies, York Revolution, Somerset Patriots and Lincoln Saltdogs. Pugliese also played Winter Ball in Puerto Rico and Venezuela. 


Pugliese finished his career in the Minor Leagues with a 3.42 ERA, 29-24 record, 10 saves and 391 strikeouts in 462.2 innings pitched.  Pugliese began his MILB career in Rookie Ball, went to Short A, Fall A, Advanced A and reached Double A.  Pugliese’s best season came in 2014 with the Kane County Cougars, when he had a 1.66 ERA, went 4-0 and won a Fall Season Championship.  Pugliese earned multiple honors throughout his time in the Minor Leagues.  In 2013, he was the Northwest League (NWL) Pitcher of the Week and named a NWL Mid-Season All Star.  In 2017, he was a Southern League Mid-Season All Star and in 2019, he was named An Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star with the Somerset Patriots.


In 2019, Pugliese was selected to represent Team Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series in Panama in February.  Pugliese’s Puerto Rican team, Congrejeros de Santarce won the Puerto Rican Winter League Championship that year.  Pugliese posted a 1.48 ERA and had 12 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.  Pugliese ended his career in the summer of 2021 with the Lincoln Salt Dogs.  He led the league with 25 saves. 


Pugliese started the James Pugliese Pitching Academy in 2013 in Hamilton, NJ and discussed how the idea to partner with Fillmyer came about.


“I have known Heath since around 2012-2013. We became off-season throwing partners around that time for almost every off-season until I was eventually released from the Cubs in 2018. We have always kept in touch and been good friends. I knew that Heath was in the area throwing and building his arm back up to get picked up by an organization for this upcoming professional season. My availability for pitching lessons has become very limited due to starting graduate school for Educational Leadership at Montclair State University. I said to myself that this could be a great opportunity to allow for my pitching clients to continue to get A+ guidance by a Major League pitcher (Heath Fillmyer). I offered him an opportunity to partner with me and we are running with it. He uses my pitching clients and we both use Nottingham Little Leagues indoor batting cage. A big shout out to Adam Bendas and Jamie Leder at Nottingham Little League for trusting us to create this opportunity and to give the local youth baseball programs proper pitching instruction and guidance. Without them, this would not have been possible.”


After beginning their pitching careers at MCCC, Fillmyer and Pugliese are both back in Mercer County and sharing their expertise and talents to young baseball players. 


To read more Alumni Success stories like Heath and James visit



Heath Fillmyer played for MCCC in 2013 and 2014



James Pugliese earned NJCAA All-American honors in 2011




 Fillmyer made 12 starts for the Kansas City Royals



 Pugliese spent ten years in Minor League baseball