Feature Photo: Dustin Fowler, RF, Yankees
When 2080’s Lisa Winston contacted me several months ago to ask if I could fill in for her for two weeks on the Debutantes Ball column, I jumped at the opportunity. As someone who has spent more than a decade covering the journey of minor league prospects to the big leagues, I find no greater joy than watching a player make his major league debut. So when this week finally rolled around, I was ready for action.
My first potential debutante was Blue Jays right-hander Chris Smith, whose name popped up on the transactions wire early on Monday. I actually audibly said, “Let’s go”, when I realized that Smith would be making his major league debut and furiously got down to the business of learning everything about the Toronto reliever. And, oh, what a story to begin with: an undrafted infielder out of college who converted to the mound in the independent Frontier League and pitched in the Australian Baseball League before finally receiving an opportunity in affiliated baseball.
Smith was one of four players to receive his first call to the big leagues on Monday. I should have taken that as a sign of what was to come.
In what was a record-breaking week for debuts (way to haze the new kid, MLB GMs), 20 players became debutantes this week. That surpassed the non-Opening Day week record of 17 that was set last week. We are now up to 148 debuts for the 2017 season. The Yankees alone had four players make their major league debuts this week.
Of course, the biggest story of the week involved the Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler. In one of the saddest moments in a debut since Adam Greenberg (OF, Cubs) was hit in the head with the first pitch he saw in the big leagues in 2005, Fowler suffered a gruesome injury in the bottom of the first inning of his major league debut. Playing right field for the Yankees on a rainy night in Chicago, Fowler hustled after a foul ball and banged his right knee into the short wall in foul territory. He ruptured his patella tendon and had to be carted off of the field. Fowler had been due up for his first big league at-bat in the top of the second inning. Now he’s out for the season.
Two other Yankees’ rookies had record-breaking debuts this week. Third baseman Miguel Andujar became the first Yankee ever to record three hits and four RBIs in his debut, while left fielder Clint Frazier was the first Yankee in 100 years to hit a double and a homer in his first big league game.
With 20 write-ups in the database, I have gone from debutante rookie to grizzled veteran in the span of one week. By next week, I should qualify for 10-5 status if this pace keeps up. Be sure to read up on all of the debuts in the MLB Debuts chart below – you know that Lisa will be!
(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.)