The Oakland A’s made a flurry of moves Friday, chief among them calling up outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez. As someone who works at Baseball America, I’m supposed to be excited about a prospect of his ilk getting called up, not the 28-year-old reliever who also got the call.
But it’s the 28-year-old reliever that’s got me psyched. Brad Ziegler got the call to the major leagues. Yeah, that Brad Ziegler, the one who led Southwest Missouri State to the College World Series in 2003, back when Shaun Marcum was more of a shortstop and middle reliever. The Brad Ziegler that pitched for two different teams in the Cape Cod League and had a 30-plus inning walkless streak there, and still wasn’t supposed to be a "prospect." The Brad Ziegler whom the Phillies released, who as a result spent a brief stint in indy ball.
The Brad Ziegler who signed with the A’s and was supposed to be just another organizational soldier, even taking a line drive off the head in the California League playoffs back in 2004. He’s the same Ziegler who went ahead and dropped to a submarine arm angle prior to the 2007 season, anything to stay around the game, to give it a shot to make it to the majors.
I’ve e-mailed on and off with Ziegler since his college days; I think his SMS teammate Matt Palmer, a longtime Giants farmhand, went first, telling me to notice the Bears’ program, and Brad picked up the torch and kept carrying it. We’ve talked baseball, kids (he and his wife had their first child, Kaylin, in October, days after my wife and I had our second) and, well, hunting, though I don’t hunt. We’ve even talked Olympics; I thought maybe going to Beijing would be his biggest baseball reward and have pumped him up to USA Baseball on a couple of occasions.
But he’s too good for that now, apparently. His 2.41 ERA in 78 innings between Double-A and Triple-A weren’t enough to get him on the 40-man roster last November, and he was frustrated, but as usual, he just came back better. Now, after giving up one earned run in 24 innings this spring in a return engagement with Sacramento, he’s Brad Ziegler, big leaguer.
I guess I just wanted to say congratulations.
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