Diamondback’s reliever Brad Ziegler has settled into an unassuming role in the Diamondback’s bullpen.
He’s just another of several recognizable faces in the D-Backs veteran bullpen. However the start of his career was anything but ordinary and
his path to the big leagues was filled with many ups and downs. His career numbers are impressive nonetheless as he posts a 2.43 ERA in four major league seasons and he never posted an ERA higher than 3.26 in a single major league season.
With just four seasons in his major league career, you might expect Ziegler to be in his mid 20s, however he’s 32 and his path to the major leagues was filled with pitfalls. Ziegler wasn’t drafted until the 20th round of the 2003 MLB draft–by the Philadelphia Phillies–after his senior season at Missouri State University. Ziegler began his career as a starter in the Phillies system but the organization released him before the 2004 season due to a perceived lack of talent and his age. However, Ziegler eventually caught on with the Oakland A’s after pitching independent ball. His minor league career was marred with fluke injuries as he twice suffered a fractured skull–once off a bat and the second time during a youth clinic–however both times Ziegler quickly recovered from these potentially devastating injuries.
While Ziegler’s signature sidearm throwing style has become his most recognizable trait, he didn’t orignally pitch using that style. He began to develop this method of pitching in the middle minor leagues and it has stuck with him. In fact, it likely saved his career. Ziegler floudered between Double-A and Triple-A ball with a 4.08 ERA in four minor league seasons as a starter. However, after switching to a sidearm style after the 2006 season, Ziegler also converted to a reliever and saw his ERA dip to 2.14–he quickly ascended to the Oakland A’s. What an amazing start he had to his career as he pitched 39 scoreless innings to begin his major league career–a MLB record. He’s been nearly as good ever since.
Looking to shore up their porous bullpen, Ziegler was acquired by the D-Backs last season for outfielder Brandon Allen and reliever Jordan Norberto and looks to again be a fixture there behind power arms such as J.J. Putz and David Hernandez. From where he’s been–or could have been–Brad Ziegler has more than proved his worth in the major leagues and found a home in Arizona.
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