After being the last team in the California League this season to be able to celebrate a former player’s major league debut, the Modesto Nuts are on a roll, with three first appearances in the last 10 days and perhaps one more on the immediate horizon.
On May 31, ex-Modesto (2006) pitcher Jarrett Grube made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a loss to Oakland. Grube later was outrighted back to Triple-A Salt Lake City, but his cup of coffee in the majors came after an 11-year minor league journey that included being released by both Colorado and Seattle
Columnist Kurt Kragthorpe of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote an excellent piece on Grube, which you can read HERE.
On Friday, 2013 Modesto starter Eddie Butler started for the Rockies and took the loss against the Dodgers, giving up six runs in 51/3 innings. As was the case with Grube, the second part of Butler’s story was not positive. The lanky redhead was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with shoulder inflammation.
“At this point, it's precautionary,” Rockies head trainer Keith Dugger told the Denver Post. “We don't know him that well, but when the kid comes up and says he has some soreness in his armpit area, it's kind of alarming.”
The Rockies turned to 2012 Modesto ace Christian Bergman to make Monday’s home start against Atlanta. Bergman was a 24th round draft pick of Colorado in 2010 out of UC Irvine and emerged as a prospect when he wetn 16-5, 3.65 with the Nuts in 2012. He was 8-7, 3.37 last season in Tulsa and was 4-4, 3.84 in 12 starts with Colorado Springs before getting the call.
Bergman pitched very well against Atlanta, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four. He threw 89 pitches, 54 of which were strikes.
Most notably, Bergman got a single in his first major league at-bat, but left on the short end of a 2-0 score.
Because Butler is on the D.L., the Rockies need to make a decision as to who will start Wednesday’s game against the Braves. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post has speculated that it may come down to a choice between Franklin Morales, recently moved to the bullpen after going 3-4, 6.03 in 11 starts, or Tyler Matzek, who is 5-4, 4.05 in 12 starts with Colorado Springs.
Matzek was 0-3, 9.82 in Modesto in 2011 and 6-8, 4.62 with the Nuts in 2012 as the powerful lefty struggled to throw strikes. Over those two seasons in Modesto, Matzek struck out 190 and walked 141 in 1751/3 innings.
Should Matzek get the call on Wednesday, it will be an historic moment of sorts at John Thurman Field. He would become the 300th player to come through the Modesto clubhouse en route to the major leagues, and Modesto would be the first California League franchise to reach 300 MLB alums.
STORY CLEARED FOR ALL-STAR GAME
Modesto shortstop Trevor Story will be playing in next Tuesday’s California-Carolina All-Star game after all.
Story, who suffered a broken pinky and deep cut when hit by a pitch on May 22, will not be with the Nuts when they finish the first half with four games at Bakersfield Wednesday-Saturday.
Instead, he’ll be joining the Tri-City Dust Devils and will be in their lineup on Friday when they open their season at Boise. He’ll play three games with the Dust Devils, then fly to Delaware on Monday to participate in the All-Star Game festivities.
Story is expected to rejoin Modesto when it opens second-half play at home on Thursday, June 19 against High Desert. Or, the Rockies could decide to send him to Double-A Tulsa at the break since this is the second full season the 21-year-old Texan has spent in the California League.
At the time of his injury, Story was hitting .323 with three homers, 23 RBI and 18 stolen bases.