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Twins call up Alex Wimmers, give hope to millions

It’s been a long and bumpy road for Minnesota’s former first-round draft pick, but the 27 year old has finally been called up to the Majors.

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It’s the minorest of minor moves, but it may, in a cosmic sense, be the most important. The Minnesota Twins announced today that they’re calling up former first round pick Alex Wimmers to provide bullpen help.

Wimmers was the 21st overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Twins, part of a series of first round picks by the club that targeted players like Kyle Gibson and Levi Michael who supposedly had high floors and low ceilings. Wimmers was regarded as the best player to come out of the Big Ten in 2010, and was seen as a potential third or fourth starter. And he had some success in 2010 before everything went to Hell.

He was supposed to move fast through Minnesota’s system, but Wimmers developed the yips in his first start for Fort Myers in 2011, walking the first six batters he faced in his first outing of the season. The Twins immediately shut him down, sent him back to extended spring training, and got him a sports psychologist. He didn’t return to the mound in a game for almost another three months. He continued to struggle with his control, and eventually had to undergo Tommy John Surgery in 2012.

He was 24 before he got back on the field again, and he was rusty and no longer considered a legitimate prospect. He bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen in the high minors before finally settling into a bullpen role this year, and even closed for a while at triple-A Rochester. In 49.2 innings, he struck out 50 and had an ERA of 3.62. The Twins will undoubtedly use him in low leverage situations, and it’s hard to see him having an impact with the worst team in the American League, neither now nor in the future.

That said, this is still fantastic news and is one of the reasons I love baseball so damn much. Wimmers was practically given up for dead by his own organization. Literally, he was probably a month from getting released. Maybe less. And if that would have happened, he would have had to start a new life at 25, 26, or 27, with almost no employment history. God, can you even imagine?

But instead of giving in to the inevitable, Wimmers kept pitching. He found new ways to contribute. And, as his reward, he’s going to be a Major Leaguer. He’s going to let someone else carry his bags. He gets to throw white balls for bullpen sessions. The ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women (or whatever his preference is; I make no assumptions) all have long legs and brains.

He gets a shot. And that’s all any of us want is a fair chance. We don’t all get it, and that’s ok. That’s life. But I like to believe that, if you keep banging your head against a brick wall it can, very rarely, come crumbling down at your feet, and that there’s dignity and grace and beauty in continuing to try.

Bless you Alex Wimmers.

You debut for all of us.