Feature Photo: Pierce Johnson, RHP, Cubs
This week started with a bang and ended with a whisper, as there were – for the first time in, at least, your humble scribe’s memory – NO debuts over the weekend after a handful on Friday evening and a grand total of seven on the week. We also, for the first time in this scribe’s memory, come into Week Eight with what I call a “clean board” (I just made that term up because I don’t remember the last time I had one – I keep a list of all of my pending debuts on a dry-erase board and there have been NO names on it since I happily erased Paolo Espino, Pierce Johnson and Anthony Alford Saturday morning).
The week was also momentous (well, at least in the world of the Debutantes Ball) as it featured the debut of a 30-year-old pitcher in his 11th pro season, a 28-year-old pitcher who had spent the majority of his season in the Mexican League before finally coming stateside last year, and maybe most memorably a 32-year-old journeyman with an unpronounceable name but a very memorable “side job.”
FUN FACT: Remember way back when I was commiserating with the radio and TV announcers about the glut of unpronounceable names that all seemed to come up at once? Well, that trend is not over. Welcome to the big leagues, 32-year-old perennial MiLB.com Moniker Madness bracket denizen Austin Bibens-Dirkx, a right-handed pitcher for the Rangers. Okay, time for our really quite awesomely fun fact which we will illustrate with a few links … making his debut at 32 years old would be good story enough, right? But Bibens-Dirkx (pronounced “Bibbins Dirks”) is not just a baseball player, he’s also actually a hell of a good singer/guitarist/songwriter, with a few CDs out there for you to listen to (and purchase, if the spirit moves you – as the mom of a former singer-songwriter and the wife of one as well, I always urge people to buy the songs they enjoy, not just listen to them online!) … so here is a really fun link to Bibens-Dirkx doing an a capella version of a Tim McGraw song on what is clearly a fun long bus trip… as well as a link to his CD Baby page … give a listen, buy a tune! I can honestly say he’s got a beautiful voice! Oh, he’s also a huge fan of Blake Shelton, so maybe if someone involved with The Voice is reading this … come on, guys, how often would you get a major league pitcher on your show? Think of the ratings! And to make his story even better, the guy had to wait more than a week to get that hyphenated eye chart of a name into a boxscore, as he joined the Rangers on May 7 but didn’t get into a game until May 17! Why yes, since you asked, I DID let out a squeal of glee that terrified my dog when I saw his name in the box.
Also, if you’ve been playing along from home, that 11-year vet, pitcher Paolo Espino, made his debut with the Brewers so, combined with megaprospect Ian Happ’s arrival with the Cubs last week, we’re now down to two teams that have yet to bring a deb to the ball this season: Arizona and Houston. Play on.
Along with the usual fun and frolic that every morning on “deb duty” entails as your humble scribe sits down to peruse boxscores with her coffee (French Market, thank you for asking – high test, baby!), it all made for good times in Debuville so why not sit down and take a break from your usual routine of just looking here to figure out who to pick up for your fantasy league team and enjoy some of these individuals’ stories (and yes, I promise there are a FEW top prospects you’ll want to grab if no one else in your league has already done so).
(Reminder! The MLB Debut table is also found by clicking the Spotlights Tab on our home page, and scrolling to the top sub-menu selection.)