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August 7, 2013

What You Need to Know

Meet Andrew Albers

by Daniel Rathman


The Tuesday Takeaway
The Baseball Prospectus staff came together in this week’s Lineup Card to decry the game’s worst clichés. Here’s a cliché that did not make that list: You only get one major-league debut.

Scores of players have spoken those words after their first forays onto a big-league diamond. Stephen Strasburg said them. Mark Prior said them. And countless others have, too. But few players will cherish their first taste of The Show more than Andrew Albers, who toed the rubber for the Twins at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night.

Since 1916, as far back as the Baseball-Reference Play Index goes, only 44 pitchers have thrown a shutout in their major-league debuts. The most recent is Andy Van Hekken, who eight-hit the Indians on September 3, 2002. Albers did not become the 45th member of that club. Instead, he did something that only four debuting pitchers have done: work at least 8 1/3 innings without permitting a run, but leave the mound before the shutout is complete.

Kirk Rueter was the last to do it, on July 7, 1993, but he breezed through the minors after the Expos made him their 18th-round pick in 1991. Thirty years to the day of Albers’ debut, Danny Cox blanked the Phillies for 10 innings, only to give way to Bruce Sutter in the 11th and watch him surrender the lone run in the Cardinals’ defeat. But Cox, too, cruised up the organizational ladder and reached the majors about two years after finishing his collegiate career.

Albers took the road less traveled—and, as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.”

Seth Stohs, who covers the Twins as part of ESPN’s SweetSpot network, recounted the full story (originally published in 2012), when Albers’ promotion was announced. His post is well worth reading, but here is the gist:

  • He was drafted twice, first by the Brewers (12th round, 2004) out of high school, then by the Padres (10th round, 2008) out of the University of Kentucky.
  • He signed with the Padres in 2008, but suffered an elbow injury shortly thereafter; that injury eventually required Tommy John surgery, and the Padres released him in 2010.
  • Unable to find another minor-league hitch, Albers signed with the Can-Am League’s Quebec Capitales.
  • After a strong season there, Albers tried out for multiple big-league organizations, before enduring an arduous process to secure a job with the Twins. Off he went to High-A Fort Myers, at the age of 25.

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Related Content:  Minnesota Twins,  Andrew Albers

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