Caleb Thielbar pitching for the Twins against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night. Photo courtesy AaronGleeman.com
Caleb Thielbar (Little Falls 2007) pitched two scoreless innings against the National League East leading Atlanta Braves and struck out three in his Major League debut on Monday night for the Minnesota Twins. Prior to the game at Atlanta’s Turner Field, Thielbar had been recalled by the Twins from Triple-A Rochester of the International League.
Thielbar, 26, is the first former player in the history of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs organization (2006-current) to play in a Major League game. Thielbar pitched for the DiamondDawgs in 2007 when the team was known as the Little Falls Miners. He was a New York Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game selection and struck out 52 batters in 52.0 innings pitched.
The Northfield, Minn., native entered Monday night’s game in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Twins trailing 5-0. Thielbar faced Atlanta lead-off hitter Andrelton Simmons to start the frame and allowed a line-drive single to left field. The next batter, former all-star Jason Heyward, hit a ground ball that turned into a force out at second for the first out of the inning. Thielbar got Major League home run leader Justin Upton to fly out to center field for the second out and then he struck out Atlanta clean-up batter Freddie Freeman to end the inning.
Thielbar, an 18th-round selection of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft, returned for the bottom of the eighth inning. The South Dakota State University product retired the side in order to complete his second scoreless frame. Thielbar struck out both Gerald Laird and Juan Francisco and induced a pop out back to the mound from Dan Uggla.
The final line for Thielbar, two innings pitched, one hit, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts.
Thielbar has not allowed an earned run since April 25 against the Syracuse Chiefs. The southpaw, in his final eight appearances before being recalled, was 1-1 with a 0.00 earned run average and 15 strikeouts in 11.1 innings. Overall at Triple-A Rochester, Thielbar boasted a 4.25:1 strikeout to walk ratio with 34 strikeouts and just eight walks in 26.1 innings pitched.
Thielbar raced through the Twins minor-league system in 2012 as he pitched at three different levels from Advanced-A through Triple-A. The South Dakota State University graduate began 2012 in the Twins minor league spring training camp. On March 31, he was activated on Minnesota’s Major League Spring Training roster. On the same day, he pitched one inning of relief for the Twins against in the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The southpaw officially opened the 2012 season with the Florida State League’s Fort Myers Miracle. Thielbar quieted opponents’ bats over seven appearances in which he did not allow an earned run. He struck out 16, walked two and converted one save in 12.1 innings. The 25-year-old was promoted to Double-A New Britain on April 30, less than four weeks into the season. He walked only three in 16 appearances and carved out a 2-0 record with four saves and a 1.80 earned run average. Thielbar struck out 26 batters in 25 innings and held Double-A hitters to a .180 batting average.
The Little Falls product spent less than two months in New Britain and earned a promotion to Triple-A Rochester in mid-June. Thielbar logged 25 appearances for Minnesota’s top affiliate in the International League. He went 3-1 with one save and a 3.57 earned run average in his first Triple-A campaign. The six-foot southpaw fanned 32 and walked 16 in 40.1 innings pitched.
Last fall, the Northfield, Minn., native pitched in the prestigious Arizona Fall League with the Peoria Javelinas. Peoria won the AFL championship with a roster that included seven Minnesota farm hands as well as pitcher Logan Darnell (Amsterdam 2008) and infielder Stefen Romero (Glens Falls 2008). Thielbar appeared in 11 games and struck out 12 batters in 13.0 innings. He fanned multiple batters in two of his last three outings of the fall and recorded three multiple-strikeout games.
Caleb began his professional career in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system in 2009. He was an 18th-round pick (556th overall) of the Brewers in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He spent two years in the Brewers system working primarily as a reliever. Following a break-up with the Brewers in 2011, Thielbar was tapped by the independent St. Paul Saints of the American Association. Thielbar pitched in 43 games for the Saints and struck out 62 batters in 49.2 innings. He went 3-3 with a 2.54 earned run average and walked just 15 men. In August of 2011, Thielbar became the first St. Paul Saint to be signed by the Minnesota Twins.