Minnesota Twins: the improbable path of Caleb Thielbar

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 14: Caleb Thielbar
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 14: Caleb Thielbar /

Former Minnesota Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar had a rare and unique path to his major league debut in 2013.

The Minnesota Twins have seen some great stories in players that worked their way to the major leagues

Thielbar’s background

It’s been said that if you want your child to play baseball, teach him to throw left-handed. Thielbar is someone who was a great example of that, with a fastball that averages under 90 MPH, a 70 MPH curve, upper-70s slider, and a low-80s change.

He great up in Minnesota, graduating from Randolph High School before heading to South Dakota State, at the time a burgeoning school on the edge of becoming a D-1 school for baseball.

The Brewers drafted Thielbar in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. He was dominant in his draft year in the Brewers system. He threw 47 innings with a 1.53 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a 8/48 BB/K ratio.

However, he struggled hard in his first full season as a pro. He put up a 5.19 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP over 67 2/3 innings and was released by the Brewers at the end of the season.

Thielbar signed with the St. Paul Saints and threw well in 43 games for the Saints, gaining the Twins’ attention. He threw 3 games with Fort Myers to finish out 2011.

Thielbar rocketed up the Twins system in 2012, pitching to a 2.43 ERA over 77 2/3 innings across three levels.

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Pro career

After 17 games in AAA, Thielbar made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins on May 20th, 2013. He had an amazing season by any measure, making 49 appearances, throwing 46 innings, with a 1.76 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and a 14/39 BB/K ratio.

Thielbar’s 2014 wasn’t quite as solid, but he was still valuable in the bullpen, with a 3.40 ERA over 54 appearances, throwing 47 2/3 innings with a 1.41 WHIP and a 16/35 BB/K. Thielbar started the 2015 season in AAA, but struggled mightily in his MLB time.

The Twins designated Thielbar for assignment after acquiring Kevin Jepsen in a trade deadline deal, and he was claimed by the Padres.

Thielbar spent all of the past two seasons with the St. Paul Saints, throwing 86 1/3 innings with a 2.29 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and a 19/79 BB/K ratio.

Next: Who next goes into the Twins team HOF?

A week ago, Thielbar signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers, so he could find his way to the major leagues with the manager who brought him up in 2013!

Come soon, spring!!