Independent Baseball Insider by Bob Wirz
It took only one season and about one-third of another after putting up breath-taking numbers in the American Association for birthday boy John Brebbia (pictured) to become a major league pitcher.
Brebbia, a Floridian who turned 27 today (Tuesday), made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in Denver Sunday, where he retired Trevor Story on a liner to left for the final out of the eighth inning of an 8-4 defeat.
This came less than 48 hours after Brebbia got the word from Memphis manager Stubby Clapp while playing in Sacramento that the right-hander would be joining a major league team for the first time.
“It was awesome, being called into the coach’s office and being there with the coaches and mentors, and having them tell me that it was time to go on to the next level,” the excited Brebbia told MLB.com. “It was indescribable, at best.”
The New York Yankees drafted Brebbia out of Elon University in 2011, and in three seasons in their farm system the 6-foot-2 hurler did not advance above Class A. Sioux Falls was the next stop in ’14 where he fanned 76 American Association batters in 65.1 innings (3-2, one save, 3.31). Laredo was on tap in ’15, and he was even better, allowing only 34 hits (only two homers) and striking out 79 in 64.1 innings, going 7-2, 0.98 with 19 saves (fifth best in the league) for the Lemurs.
Exclusively a reliever except for five starts at Sioux Falls and one earlier this season for Memphis, Brebbia worked his way through the Cardinals’ farm system in little more than a year, capping it with a 1.69 earned run average (1-1, three saves) in 15 Triple-A appearances this season.
“He’s the kind of guy that’s always looking to have an impact on other people,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny told MLB.com of the pitcher with a mid-90s fastball, breaking ball and changeup. “Players appreciate the road that he’s taken to get here, the story that he has.”
By the way, Brebbia did not get any opportunities with the parent Cardinals during spring training.
Hats Off to Ed Nottle
The early days of the American Association season have seen the usual with both great pitching performances and strong hitting, but nothing has been as heart-warming as The Sioux City Journal’s tribute to the Sioux City Explorers’ first manager, Ed Nottle.
“…It bears repeating how much Nottle’s tireless efforts to promote the Explorers helped attract upwards of 3,000 fans per game in each of the club’s first five seasons,” praised columnist Terry Hersom.
Gregarious “Singin’ Ed”, now 77, went from his home in Evansville, IN to throw out the first ball to usher in the team’s 25th year as one of Independent Baseball’s longest-running franchises.
Others Doing Well
Elsewhere, onetime El Paso third baseman Edgar Corcino shares fourth in the Southern League batting race at .305 for Minnesota’s Chattanooga club, Lincoln and El Paso grad Tim Adleman set a personal best with eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball in carrying Cincinnati past Philadlephia, 5-2, to give him a 3-1 record for May and former Kansas City T-Bones lefty Mike Kickham has lowered his ERA to 2.91 for Miami’s Double-A club in Jacksonville.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, came out in October and is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at www.WirzandAssociates.com.