A week ago, San Fransisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Caleb Baragar’s left-handed delivery reminded him of former Yankees star Andy Pettitte.
“I’m not saying Caleb is a Hall-of-Famer,” Kapler told reporters, according to NBC Sports. “But the delivery reminded us in the dugout of Pettitte.”
Looks like a major leaguer.
Now he is a major leaguer.
Baragar was one of several Hoosiers to make an opening day roster for an MLB club. The 26-year-old pitcher was joined by Alex Dickerson on the Giants’ roster, while Kyle Schwarber and Josh Phegley both made the Cubs.
Pitchers Kyle Hart, Aaron Slegers, and Jonathan Stiever, who were in camp with the Red Sox, Rays, and White Sox, respectively, did not survive the MLB’s cut down to 30 active players for opening day. Hart, in particular, is headed to the Red Sox’s “alternate site” in Pawtucket, R.I., to continue training and remain on-call.
While Schwarber, Phegley, and Dickerson are all position players with multiple years of MLB service time, Baragar is a ninth-round draft pick from 2016 who has worked the last several years to climb the Giants’ minor league system.
He spent parts of the 2019 season with the Giants’ High A, Double-A, and Triple-A affiliates, posting a combined 5-6 record with a 3.57 earned run average.
A transfer from Jackson Community College (Mich.), Baragar played his junior and senior seasons at IU. He started 27 games, throwing 143 2/3 innings and striking out 124.
Hart, his former teammate, wasn’t surprised to hear Baragar was impressing people in the Giants’ organization.
“His stuff is really heavy, and it’s smooth,” Hart said Monday.
Baragar provides left-handed pitching depth to a Giants’ staff that needed it. Mike Yastrzemski, who struck out versus Baragar last week in an intrasquad scrimmage, said the ball “explodes” out of the former Hoosiers’ hand.
“He looked really, really good,” Yastrzemski said, per NBC Sports. “I think he’s got a good future ahead of him and hopefully we see him as soon as possible.”
Yastrzemski got his wish, as Baragar makes the opening day roster. He’s joined by Dickerson, who was acquired by the Giants in a midseason trade with the Padres last year.
Dickerson ended up starting 32 of his 44 appearances in San Fransisco, batting .290 with 13 doubles. This season, Dickerson is expected to split time in left field with Hunter Pence.
Kapler, who managed the Phillies last season, has mentioned a desire to keep Dickerson fresh. In 2017, the former Hoosier suffered a bulging disc in spring training. He dealt with back spasms and a strained oblique in 2019.
“We saw him as especially dangerous against right-handed pitching,” Kapler said, according to MLB.com. “We had to have left-handed pitching ready for him. We were aware of his health history, and now, our No. 1 concern is making sure we keep him healthy. We think if Alex Dickerson is healthy, he’s a very, very dangerous weapon against right-handed pitching.”
There is also a chance Dickerson could play a role at designated hitter given the National League’s adoption of the longstanding American League feature in 2020.
The power-hitting Schwarber could also be in line to be the Chicago Cubs’ DH. Schwarber is the fastest player to reach 100 home runs in Cubs’ history, reaching the century mark in his 453rd career game.
Still just 27 years old, Schwarber has 110 homers heading into the 2020 season.
“I think the biggest thing for a DH is to be able to stay locked into the game as much as possible,” Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft, told the Associated Press. “Know what’s going on, see what’s going on. Keep your mind into it.”
The 32-year-old Phegley joins Schwarber on the Cubs’ roster following five seasons with the Athletics. He’s a career .227 hitter in seven MLB seasons but provides depth at catcher. The Cubs are carrying three backstops to start the season.
While there is certainly disappointment for someone like Hart, who is just barely on the outside of MLB action, heading to the alternate site wasn’t entirely unexpected for the former 19th-round draft pick.
The 27-year-old lefty was still impressive at times during summer camp, including four innings of shutout ball during a scrimmage at Fenway Park last week.
“Guys on the fringe like me, you just do your damn best and limit your expectations, so you don’t get too high or too low,” Hart said Monday, before he knew his ultimate fate. “That’s where I am at now, just trying to stay in my lane, try to take care of business, and at the end of the day, they are going to put you on the team or they or not.
“And if they don’t, the mindset doesn’t change, because there are still 60 games to be played in 64 days. There is plenty of baseball to be played, and you gotta be ready when your name is called.”