DES MOINES, Iowa -

Central grad R.J. Seidel hopes to follow in the footsteps of Damian Miller, Scott Servais, and George Williams -- Major League Baseball players from the Coulee Region.

After seven long years in the minors, he's one step away from doing so.

Seidel signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a senior at Central High School, turning down a full scholarship to play at Arkansas. Now, he's pitching for the Brewers' AAA affiliate, the Nashville Sounds.

"Leaving home at 18, most kids get driven to college. We put him on an airplane and he left us," Lynda Seidel, RJ's mom said.

In seven years, R.J. has played in Helena, Montana; Charleston, West Virgina; Phoenix, Arizona; Appleton, Wisconsin; Melbourne, Florida, and Huntsville, Alabama. Finally, this May, he was called up to Nashville.

"A lot of travel, a lot of cool experiences a normal person doesn't get to go through," R.J. said. "A lot of ups and downs, though."

"It was tough on R.J., not only physically, but mentally," said his dad, Dick, who pitched in the Yankees organization.

"I spent a lot of time on the phone, with my dad especially, talking through outings, and the bad outings, when you don't know how to handle them, and you can't even fall asleep at night because you're thinking about it, thinking I wish I could take that pitch back," R.J. said.

"It's tough," Lynda said. "Your child wants to reach this goal, and not a lot of kids make it. So every level he's gotten to, I've just been so proud."

With all the miles Seidel has traveled, and the miles he still hopes to go, there's one place he still loves to travel: La Crosse.

"I appreciate everything the city's done for me," R.J. said. "I'm very, very proud of where I've come from."