Eric Niesen is now the newest member of the Seattle Mariners after receiving an invitation to spring training.
Niesen was drafted by the New York Mets in the third-round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Wake Forest University. In the five years he spent with the Mets, Niesen made it to Double-A.
In an interview with Monroe News after his release by the Mets, he revealed how difficult the process was.
"I needed a fresh start," he said. "With the Mets [organization], I felt I had to be perfect every time out. It was one of those things where you hadn't pitched in a few days, so you're not surprised. I saw the writing on the wall."
It was stated that Niesen started to experience control problems after a freak accident when he was hit in the back of the head by an errant throw by the catcher on an attempted stolen base.
In an effort to return, as many others do, Niesen hooked up with an Independent baseball team—the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.
And what happened this year was a rebirth for the Wake Forest alumni.
In 57 games, Niesen went 3-2 with a 3.89 ERA in 69 innings. He struck out 64 while walking only 28 (courtesy of Baseball Reference). In a press release by the Ducks, president Michael Pfaff was very complimentary of his efforts this season.
“Eric did a great job for us last season, and we wish him the best of luck with Seattle.”
Niesen also played an integral part of the Ducks postseason run to the championship, appearing in seven games and striking out three.
This reminds me of another feel good story you might remember; Scott Kazmir.
Whether or not Niesen makes the team out of spring training, his time in the Independent league earned him another shot. With the drive to succeed and a don’t quit attitude, this is not the last time we’re going to hear from him.