Last year it was Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
In 2016, it was Matt Bush.
In 2014, it was Guilder Rodriguez.
The Rangers are masters at writing Cinderella Stories.
The latest is Brandon Mann. He made his major league debut Sunday. And made his second appearance in yesterday’s extra-inning loss to Seattle, his home town team
Mann had a long and winding road since being drafted by Tampa Bay in 2002.
Sixteen years. Seventeen teams. Japanese leagues. Independent leagues. A suspension for PEDs. A whole lot of different minor leagues.
He’s thirty-four years old. And he’s a rookie. All he could say about finally getting a chance was, “It means everything. Honestly.”
Lucky for him, he stuck around long enough to pitch in a time when the Rangers are desperate for any able-bodied pitcher. But that is not to slight what Mann has done this season. In a system of abysmal pitching, Mann has stood out like Wilt Chamberlain at the Lollypop Guild convention.
He came out of spring training with the best numbers in the system. But nobody pays attention to spring numbers.
They do pay attention after the bell rings. All Mann did then was register a 1.04 ERA and an amazing 0.75 WHIP in twelve games at Round Rock this year.
That earned him the opportunity to see what he could do against major league hitters.
So far, it’s been successful.
Sunday the left-hander pitched to six hitters. He got five out. No runs. One hit.
Last night he pitched to seven hitters. He got five out as well. No runs. One hit. One hit batter.
It didn’t take Mann long to be the most reliable pitcher in the Rangers bullpen.
Just sixteen years, and three innings.
Barolo Colon (1-1, 3.32) vs. Christian Bergman (0-0, -.–)
Game time: 2:40
How the Mariners hit against Colon.
The Rangers have never faced Bergman.