Kokomo — The Atlanta Braves’ starting rotation features Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Mike Minor.
If one of those pitchers is unable to take his turn in the season’s final two weeks, Kokomo’s Brandon Beachy is next in line following a breakout season in the minors.
In fact, the Northwestern High School product is with the team in Philadelphia for a key series against the two-time defending National League champion Phillies. Jurrjens is expected to pitch for the Braves in tonight’s opener, but he is dealing with a knee injury. If Jurrjens is scratched, Beachy will make his big-league debut in the thick of a playoff race.
“It’s exciting,” Beachy said in phone interview on Sunday, approximately an hour after checking into the Braves’ team hotel. “We’re chasing Philadelphia [in the NL East], we’re in Philadelphia. They have an incredible lineup. I’d love nothing more than to be thrown right into this mix and help contribute.”
Beachy’s final minor-league appearance was on Sept. 3, but the Braves told him to remain sharp. He was on stand-by when the Braves played the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 8 in Pittsburgh. Lowe ended up making his scheduled start.
Beachy has remained sharp by throwing bullpen sessions, first at Indiana Wesleyan University and more recently at the Braves’ spring training site in Orlando, Fla.
“Physically, I feel great. I threw [Sunday] morning and my arm felt fantastic,” he said. “I’ve been working out, been running, been throwing, and not pitching in games has given me a little bit of a break. I feel fresh.
“And mentally, I am excited to be here, it’s just not knowing is killing me,” he added. “A couple weeks ago, they told me, ‘You might be going to the big leagues, pitching in Pittsburgh,’ then Lowe was able to go. Now they’re telling me I might be starting [tonight]. I’m going to have to wait until [today] to find out for sure.”
Beachy is taking his usual level-headed approach, noting his appreciation for the Braves’ confidence in him and his readiness to help as needed.
“It’s been a tough situation knowing that if somebody gets hurt, I’m going to [join the Braves]. I want my opportunity, but I don’t want to hope for somebody to get hurt. It’s not the easiest of predicaments to be in, but I’m a lucky one to be in it at the same time.” he said.
Beachy is knocking on the big-league door after a breakout season in the minors. He compiled a 5-1 record, two saves and a 1.73 ERA in 119 1/3 innings over 35 appearances at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. He recorded 148 strikeouts against just 28 walks, a better than 5-to-1 ratio.
Beachy’s work with the Double-A Mississippi Braves earned him a spot in the Southern League All-Star Game, and also the squad’s pitcher of the year award.
It’s been a storybook season for a player who joined the organization in 2008 as an undrafted free agent.
“I would love to cap it off by helping the Braves make the playoffs,” he said.