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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Gleeman: John Holdzkom goes from anonymous podcast caller to the big leagues


Two years ago (October 16, 2012 to be exact) I was listening to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast when an anonymous 24-year-old caller named “John” told her the story of how his once-promising baseball career went downhill and he blew through his $210,000 signing bonus after being drafted by the Mets out of high school… I did a little internet detective work and discovered the caller was 24-year-old right-hander John Holdzkom, a former Mets fourth-round draft pick who at the time was pitching for them at Single-A. They later released him and Holdzkom had to play independent ball just to keep his dream alive.

He pitched for two different independent league teams this year alone, but then the Pirates signed him and sent Holdzkom to Double-A. He thrived there, kept pitching well following a promotion to Triple-A, and then got the call up to the big leagues as part of September roster expansion.

Last night Holdzkom, now 26 years old, made his MLB debut. And it was a helluva debut, too: He struck out all three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth inning against the Cardinals…

I just hope Holdzkom calls back in to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast to update his story.

The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 12:49 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: independent leagues, john holdzkom, mets, minor leagues, pirates, television

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   1. esseff Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4784599)
He struck out all three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth inning against the Cardinals…

And also was part of a double play*! That's not easy to do.

(*-yes I know that he isn't credited statistically in the DP)
   2. SouthSideRyan Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4784625)
I had some hopes for his brother(I assume, same birthplace) Lincoln when he was in the Cubs organization as a relief prospect. Seems he was released without much fanfare.
   3. salvomania Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4784666)
He looked really good last night. And he's 6'-9".
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4784675)
Time for me to get my arm loose I suppose.
   5. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4784696)
In 2009 or 2010 I honest-to-god saw someone in a Lincoln Holdzkom jersey at a Pirates game. It must have been from some spring-training game-worn giveaway thing, since he was in the organization for one year and never got above AA.
   6. The District Attorney Posted: September 05, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4786141)
Longer piece about Holdzkom.
“I know you probably don’t have a roster spot. But I’ve been released so I wanted to check and see,” read Holdzkom’s text to Amarillo manager Bobby Brown, just four months before he made his big league debut... Brown didn’t have a roster spot. But he thought he knew where he could find one. In a similar situation a year before, Wichita manager Kevin Hooper had called him looking to find a spot for Holdzkom when he was getting ready to release him because of a roster crunch.

Brown found a YouTube video of Holdzkom pitching for New Zealand in the World Baseball Classic. The broadcasters were speaking Chinese, but Brown saw enough to take Holdzkom sight unseen.

This time San Angelo manager Doc Edwards didn’t even have to see a video. Brown and Edwards have a long-running understanding. If Brown knows about a useful player he can’t fit on his roster, he’ll send him to Edwards to see if he can fit in the smaller United League... So Brown got back to Holdzkom with the best option he could give him: take a job pitching at one of the lowest levels of independent baseball for $600 a month or give up and head home. Holdzkom took the job. A little more than three months later, he was pitching in the big leagues...

And once he’d worked his way back to Amarillo this spring, if Holdzkom had needed just a few more moments to get up and get loose in the bullpen, [Mal] Fichman, scouting for the Pirates, would have never noticed him... [Fichman had] sat through seven innings, it was starting to rain and there were tornadoes popping up around the area... But before he could finish packing he took a glance out to the Amarillo bullpen. He doesn’t really know why, because in Sioux Falls, you can’t see anything in the bullpens. The bullpens are nestled in corners behind the seats, so all you usually see is the top of a pitcher’s head as he warms up.

When he looked out there this time, he could see the word “Amarillo” on the pitcher’s jersey.

“You don’t see a lot of independent league players who are 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8,” Fichman said.

The stopwatch went back in the cupholder. The papers came back out and Fichman turned his radar gun back on...
   7. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 05, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4786152)
This time San Angelo manager Doc Edwards didn’t even have to see a video.

Doc Edwards? The guy who was retired and a coach for the Phillies in 1970, when all their catchers got hurt and he had to suit up and play some games?

Yep, he's the manager of San Angelo, at age 77.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 05, 2014 at 02:29 PM (#4786208)
Longer piece about Holdzkom.

Holy ####, that's a great piece.

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