His pitches found the strike zone last night against the New York Yankees. Now if O's right-hander Logan Gillaspie could just find the mementos he took from his big league debut when he pitched two scoreless innings.
“I don’t know, I have to find them," he said with a laugh in the clubhouse today. "I got the first-pitch strike (ball) I threw out, and then I got my first K ball. I don’t know where they’re at, though."
Hard to find a happier player in that room today than 25-year-old pitcher who had just made his debut in his sixth pro season. A pro career that began in 2017 in independent league baseball, where he actually had some time as both a pitcher and position player.
His record from the 2017 season shows 22 games on the mound for three different teams, and also a few games at first base and catcher, and even one at shortstop. He went 4-for-23 as a hitter.
The Milwaukee Brewers signed him in 2018 and released him in 2019. The Orioles signed him on June 9, 2021, and on May 17, 2022 he was on the mound at Camden Yards.
He threw two scoreless innings on 29 pitches against the team with the best record in majors in the New York Yankees. His fastball topped at 97 mph.
When the game was over, he got to hug his father, and as the two embraced they must have felt great appreciation for the journey that got him here.
“It was the best experience I could ask for,” Gillaspie said today at his locker. “I waited my whole life to get here and it finally happened, and I’m glad they (his parents) were here for it. Just never give up. I never gave up.
“I mean, it’s just another day of baseball. But when they were announcing my name, saying it was my MLB debut, I teared up a little bit. I was like, ‘it’s just another game.'"
But it really wasn’t.
“No,” said Gillaspie.
“I was just trying not to give up a home run to (Aaron) Judge or (Giancarlo) Stanton,” he quipped.
He was asked the best advice his father ever gave him
“Do what I love.”
Was it more emotional getting that first call to warm up, or the call to come into the game?
“Getting the call to warm up, because I didn’t know if my parents were in the stands. Or getting food or a beer or something. I was hoping they were there,” he said, and yes this guy is pretty funny too.
Will it be different now when he pitches for the second time?
“I hope not. I hope it’s the same feeling. It felt great,” he said.
Gillaspie pitched to a 4.97 ERA in 2021 between high Single-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. But the O’s seemed encouraged by a low walk rate (2.4) and high strikeout rate (11.2). Today manager Brandon Hyde said Gillaspie opened some eyes after last year in the Arizona Fall League, even though he gave up 14 runs in 14 innings. The O’s saw something, and they put him on the 40-man roster last November.
He pitched in independent ball both before and after the Brewers released him. What kept him going as he hoped to sign on with another club?
“The love of the game," Gillaspie said. "I just love playing. I wish I was still a catcher, but I’m pitching now."
And last night that took his baseball journey to its greatest heights yet.