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I noted in this
post on the blog that eight former Timber Rattlers made their Major League
debuts in 2012. There was also a bit
in there about how the number of former Rattlers to reach the major leagues is
now at 83, but that's another column for another day.
This week, I wanted to take a look at how the 2012 season went for all of the
alumni who made their MLB debuts this season.
RHP Phillippe Aumont (Timber
Rattler in 2007): The tall
Canadian made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies on August 23
with a scoreless inning against the Cincinnati Reds at home.
Aumont appeared in eighteen games over the final six weeks of the season.
He would earn a pair of saves and the praise
of the player who was traded to Seattle for him.
"Obviously he's a
big guy who throws really hard and has a pretty good curveball," [Cliff]
Lee said. "I don't know what more to say. He's done everything that has
been asked of him so far, so I expect him to be a huge part of our bullpen for
several years to come. He's got unbelievable stuff."
Aumont hopes he is part of that
bullpen to start 2013.
"I think I left a good impression,
I've done mostly what they've asked me to do," said Aumont. "I had one
bad series (in Houston), but the rest was pretty solid for me. Compared to the
minor leagues, I was throwing more strikes, getting guys out, using my defense.
"I'll see if I fit into their plans,
but I feel comfortable I will be a part of it."
Aumont said it took him a year to stop
trying to prove he was worth what the Phillies gave up to acquire him.
"I was the guy who was going to climb
the ladder and sprint through the organization and I was always looking
ahead," said Aumont. "To try to fill the void Cliff left, that was never
going to happen."
SS Juan Diaz (Timber Rattler
in 2007 & 2008): Diaz was
called up to the Cleveland Indians due to an injury to Asdrubal Cabrera, another
former Timber Rattler, and appeared in his first MLB game on May 25.
He was brought
up from AA ahead of someone else.
Rookie Juan Diaz is
still surprised to be in the big leagues and starting at shortstop for the
Indians. So are a number of other people who might wonder why Jason Donald
wasn't called up Friday before All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera injured his
left hamstring against the White Sox.
Donald opened the
season as the Indians' utility infielder. When Cabrera has had injury problems
in the past, Donald always got the call to replace him. But reportedly, Donald
is suffering from a case of the defensive "yips" since being optioned to
Class AAA Columbus on May 12.
Diaz played in five
games with the Indians before Cabrera got healthy again.
He had four hits in at bats. Diaz
committed one error in eighteen chances at shortstop.
does his future hold?
"We've had some issues (with
shortstops) over the last two years at the higher levels in the minors,"
said [Manny] Acta. "Donald has been on-and-off injury wise and learning
"We really need somebody, when we
give Cabby a day off or he goes down, who can step in help us out. It's been an
issue. . .It's been an issue."
Regarding Diaz, "For the most part,
Juan has only played Double-A baseball. It would be unfair to ask him to stop
his development and be just a backup guy. He still have some development to do
with his bat, too. Down the road, he is a guy who could fit that profile."
RHP Jim Henderson (Timber
Rattler in 2009): Henderson's
long road to the major leagues finally ended on July 26 when the Milwaukee
Brewers called him
up from Nashville in late July. It
was a great story. Click the link to
Henderson appeared in 36 games
after getting the call. He went 1-3
with three saves and struck out 45 batters in 30-2/3 innings in his time with
first save was on August 7.
After the Brewers' 3-1 win over the Reds
on Tuesday, reliever Jim Henderson was in the training room, talking about
former Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman.
Henderson and Hoffman share the same No.
51 jersey number, but that's about where their similarities, as of now, run out.
Because while Hoffman finished his career with 601 saves, Henderson -- a
29-year-old rookie who spent 10 years in the Minors -- earned his first, in his
first opportunity, on Tuesday at Miller Park.
"It's something I didn't think
about two weeks ago, for sure," Henderson said. "I just wanted to come
up here and help as much as I could. If it's a save here, if it's pitching in
the fifth inning, sixth inning, it doesn't matter. I'll go out there and do
whatever they want."
first Major League win was on October 2.
On Tuesday, the Brewers employed 10
rookies, including seven of the team's nine starters, in the type of game fans
might have seen a lot of in Milwaukee had the team not made its surprise surge
"We joked before the game that it
was Nashville Sounds Day," said winning pitcher Jim Henderson.
Henderson had no idea when he high-fived
with teammates that he had just logged his first Major League victory. Because
Thornburg did not last five innings, it was up to longtime official scorer Tim
O'Driscoll to pick the "most effective" reliever, and he tabbed
Henderson because he'd held a one-run lead in the seventh inning.
Henderson found out when he glanced at a
clubhouse television and saw his name in the box score.
"I thought it was false myself. It
was a bit of a surprise because [Brandon] Kintzler pitched the fifth," said
Henderson, referring to -- you guessed it -- another rookie. "The official
scorer was looking out for me, I guess."
It was a nice parting gift for a
29-year-old who made it to the Majors this season after pitching 10 years in the
OF Erik Komatsu (Timber
Rattler in 2009) - The St.
Louis Cardinals picked up Komatsu from the Washington Nationals in the Major
League Rule 5 draft on December 8, 2011. St.
Louis had to keep him on their major league roster all season or be returned to
the Nationals. Komatsu made his MLB
debut with the Cardinals on April 6 as pinch hitter against the Brewers at
Miller Park and got
his first MLB hit in that appearance.
As Erik Komatsu was wrapping up a series
of postgame interviews with the media, manager Mike Matheny exited his office,
lineup card in hand, and slowly made his way to the opposite end of the
visitors' clubhouse. There, Matheny delivered Komatsu the keepsake.
Komatsu left Miller Park on Friday with
both the lineup card, which he had his teammates sign, and the memory of his
first Major League hit. He hoped to find the ball, too, though he had yet to
track that down in the minutes after the Cardinals' 11-5 win over Milwaukee.
Pinch-hitting for Carlos Beltran with
one out in the ninth, Komatsu hit an 0-1 changeup up the middle. Second baseman
Rickie Weeks gave chase, but the ball was far enough to his right that Komatsu
was able to beat out the throw for an infield single.
"That hit was earned," Komatsu
joked afterward before adopting a more serious tone. "It was a special
moment. My heart was racing as I walked up to the plate. It was special."
He made one start in fifteen
games for the Cardinals. But, St.
Louis had no place for him to get regular playing time.
They were going to send him back to the Nationals, but Komatsu needed to
go through waivers. That's where
the Minnesota Twins claimed him in late April.
Komatsu appeared in fifteen more games with the Twins.
But, the Twins had no place for him.
This time, Komatsu made it through waivers and he
went back to the Nationals.
Outfielder Erik Komatsu was sent back to
the Nationals after clearing waivers, the Twins announced Tuesday.
Komatsu was designated for assignment on
Sunday to make room for right-hander Jeff Manship on the roster.
As a Rule 5 Draft pick, Komatsu had to
be offered back to Washington for $25,000 after he cleared waivers.
Komatsu, 24, was acquired by Minnesota
via waivers from St. Louis on May 4 after he was designated for assignment by
the Cardinals, who selected him in the Rule 5 Draft from the Nationals in
Komatsu hit .219 with one RBI and four
walks in 15 games with the Twins. The Nationals assigned Komatsu to Triple-A
In his 30 games in the major
leagues, and was 11-for-51 (.216) with an RBI.
Back with the Nationals organization, Komatsu appeared in 31 games for
Syracuse and hit .269 before going on the DL on July 7.
He did not play in another game the rest of the season.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (Timber
Rattler in 2010): The Kansas City Royals called up Odorizzi after an
outstanding season with Omaha in Triple-A. He
made his Major League debut as a starting pitcher against the Indians on
September 23. It went well for five
he took the loss in a rough sixth inning.
Consider Jake Odorizzi's Major League
debut a success.
He didn't win the game -- the Cleveland
Indians wound up with a 15-4 victory over Kansas City on a lovely Sunday
afternoon -- but the 22-year-old Royals right-hander pitched superbly for five
innings before giving up three runs in the sixth.
"I think he did an outstanding job
for his first start," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
As the Royals' top-ranked pitching
prospect according to MLB.com, Odorizzi gave the 22,960 fans at Kauffman Stadium
reason to anticipate the good that he might do for the club in the future. When
he left the mound during the sixth inning, they gave him a standing ovation.
"It was pretty moving, just to hear
the cheers," Odorizzi said. "They were very accepting of me and it was
great to get that on the way out. Especially on the first day, it made it just
that much more special."
Odorizzi made his second major
league start on September 29. The
Royals won the game, but he
was not involved in the decision.
It wasn't a good night, though, for the
Royals' rookie starter, Jake Odorizzi. His second Major League start lasted just
two innings. He had a 6-1 lead when he left the game but there were plenty of
reasons for his departure. Namely, a whopping total of 65 pitches.
The 22-year-old right-hander ran up 42
pitches in the first inning alone, when he issued two walks and Chisenhall
doubled home a run. He made 23 pitches in a scoreless second inning and that was
enough for Yost.
"Pitch count way too high -- 65
pitches in two innings with a young pitcher this late in the year, it's too
much. I'm not sending him back out," Yost said. "[Nate] Adcock came in
and did a phenomenal job getting us to the 'pen. [Francisley] Bueno did a good
Obviously, the Royals' top-rated
did not have his command. In his two innings, Odorizzi gave up one run, two hits
and three walks with one strikeout. Of his 65 pitches, 43 were strikes.
future looks bright for Odorizzi.
That link notes that he will get every chance to stick with the team to
start 2013, but...
It'll be especially
interesting to see how Odorizzi is handled; he might need more fine-tuning at
RHP Wily Peralta (Rattler in
2009): Peralta received a brief call up to Milwaukee early in 2012 and
worked out of the bullpen on April 22. He
went back down and struggled a bit in Nashville.
Then, he was called up later in the season as a starter.
Things went better the second time as he went 2-1 with a 2.48ERA.
major league win came in Miami on September 5.
Peralta, the No.
2 prospect in the Brewers' system as rated by MLB.com, gave up three
runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three, and he was lifted in
the seventh inning after allowing the first two hitters to reach.
"Really happy with the way he
threw," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That first outing, you
don't know what's going to happen. You think it's either going to go one [way]
or the other. He's going to be really good like he was, or he's going to be wild
and get hit around. I'm really happy with him."
Peralta struggled with command early on,
giving up a leadoff single and issuing a one-out walk in the first. The righty
was able to escape the inning after he got Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a
double play at third.
"I threw a good two-seam to
Giancarlo Stanton to get a double play," Peralta said. "I was happy to
get out of the inning without allowing a run."
The close call in the first provided
Peralta with a sigh of relief, and he settled in after that. The double play at
third marked the first of eight straight batters retired by Peralta, who gave
much of the credit for his performance to catcher Martin Maldonado. The two have
been batterymates for the last three seasons in the Minors.
The Brewers skipped Peralta in
his last scheduled start of 2012, but - like Odorizzi - the
future is bright for Peralta.
The Brewers should be
able to concentrate during the offseason on improving their pitching, both the
starting rotation and bullpen, the major area of weakness on the 2012 team. The
emergence of young pitchers Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta, and the
potential of Tyler Thornburg, has the Brewers feeling much better about
constructing a decent rotation for next season behind Yovani Gallardo.
RHP Tyler Thornburg (Timber
Rattler in 2011): Thornburg made his MLB debut as a starting pitcher for the
Brewers on June 19. It
went well for a while.
shifted the conversation toward the earlier innings and Thornburg, the
23-year-old making his Major League debut for Milwaukee on a night he was
supposed to be in Knoxville, Tenn., pitching in the Double-A Southern League's
Instead, he was needed
to pitch in place of the injured Shaun Marcum, and for five innings, Thornburg
looked the part. Entering the sixth, he had allowed four Toronto hits including
one that hurt -- Brett Lawrie's two-run homer in the third inning. But Thornburg
had a lead thanks to a four-run rally that he sparked with a double.
That was in the bottom
of the third inning, when Thornburg scored on another double by Carlos Gomez,
then watched the Blue Jays give the Brewers a lead. Toronto starter Jesse Chavez
threw a whopping 48 pitches in the inning and recorded only two outs. He put
five consecutive batters on base with four walks and a hit by pitch -- two of
the walks and the hit batsman (Corey Hart) with the bases loaded.
But Thornburg, who was
8-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 starts at Huntsville and surrendered only six home
runs in 75 innings, lost the lead in the sixth. Rasmus, Bautista and Encarnacion
each saw fastballs they liked and pounded them, combining for 1,247 feet of
airtime and the Blue Jays' first back-to-back-to-back home runs since 2005.
"It looked like
he ran out of gas," Roenicke said. "His velocity wasn't as good. We
were hoping he could get us through the sixth inning. But we didn't have anybody
else who could stop them, either. Bad day of pitching."
He had a better day pitching on
October 2, when he started in place of Peralta.
Thornburg didn't get the win - as
noted above Henderson did - but this went well for him.
Pitching for the first
time since Sept. 22 and starting for the first time since Sept. 2 at Triple-A
Nashville, he allowed only one run on four hits in four innings -- with no walks
and no home runs, notably -- before hitting his pitch limit.
Thornburg threw 51
"I pulled him
because we didn't want to get him up in pitch count too high," manager Ron
Roenicke said. "Certainly, he was throwing the ball well and he was
efficient with his pitches, but he hadn't thrown in 10 days ... and he wasn't
'stretched out.' We didn't want to do anything to take a chance with him."
"I was sitting in there, hoping they'd let me go back out and try to get
the win. Not my decision."
The team's win made it
with a good outing to end it," Thornburg said.
Thornburg had no record in
eight games - three starts - for the Brewers in 2012.
He gave up eight homers and struck out 20 in 22 innings pitched.
He is in the mix for 2013.
SS Carlos Triunfel (Timber
Rattler in 2007): Triunfel was
17 when he was a Timber Rattler to start the 2007 season.
He made his MLB debut with Seattle on September 7, got his first hit in
his second game (September 13), and made his first
start on September 21.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was looking
for a good time to give Carlos Triunfel his first career Major League start.
That moment arrived on Friday, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Triunfel hit the go-ahead double in the
fourth inning, made several nice plays at shortstop and the Mariners knocked off
the Rangers, 6-3, in the series opener at Safeco Field.
"I thought Carlos played a good
ballgame," Wedge said. "We had some big double plays there in the
eighth and ninth, he made a nice play on a ball in the hole there, got a hit. I
thought he played a good ballgame."
Triunfel, a 22-year-old rookie, was
selected from Triple-A Tacoma on Sept. 4 and had appeared in five games as a
defensive replacement prior to Friday.
With the game tied, 2-2, in the fourth,
Triunfel hit a high chopper down the left-field line that easily cleared third
baseman Michael Young. The double -- Triunfel's second big league hit -- scored
Casper Wells from first, giving the young shortstop his first RBI in the Majors.
Triunfel advanced to third on a
groundout and then scored his first MLB run with two outs on an error by Young
to pad the Mariners lead, 4-2.
"I went out there to just play my
game and I'm glad I did it," said Triunfel on his double through
interpreter Fernando Alcala. "It feels good because it scored a run and it
helped the team win."
does 2013 hold for Triunfel?
Brendan Ryan's defense is unquestioned, but his sub-.200 batting average made
for a tough 2012. Ryan's two-year contract expires, but he remains under team
control in his final season of arbitration eligibility and figures to return
unless the team decides to pursue a veteran through trade or free agency. There
are a couple of quality shortstops in the farm system, but Carlos Triunfel
didn't get much playing time even as a September callup, and Nick Franklin was
still adjusting to Triple-A pitching with Tacoma. So it probably makes sense to
re-sign Ryan for his final year of arbitration and then see how the kids develop
This offseason will be
important for all eight of these players as they work to prove they belong back
in the major leagues in 2013.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.