Aroldis Chapman and 10 Rookie Call-Ups Who Starred in the Playoffs
In a year of stunning rookie performances, Cuban defector and Reds uber-prospect Aroldis Chapman made his major-league debut on Tuesday, facing three batters in one inning of work. The 22-year-old was electric, hitting 103 mph on the radar gun.
More importantly, because Chapman was called up on August 31st, that means that he will be eligible for the postseason roster. If the Reds make the playoffs, Chapman will have the chance to become the latest in a glorious line of rookie call-ups who have had an impact in the postseason before they had a chance to have an impact in the regular season.
Here is a by-no-means exclusive look at some of the most memorable rookie call-ups who have contributed in the postseason in recent years.
Phil Hughes, 2007 New York Yankees
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Phil Hughes was just 21 years old, and the next big thing, when he made his major-league debut with the New York Yankees in 2007. After pitching just 72.2 innings, he appeared in the postseason and went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and six strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched in an ALDS loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Mariano Rivera, 1995 New York Yankees
It is hard to remember a time when Mariano Rivera was a) young, and b) not a seasoned postseason veteran.
But in 1995, Mo made his major-league debut with the Yankees and pitched 19 games, 10 of which he started, and managed a rather abysmal 5.51 ERA.
He nevertheless made the postseason roster and pitched 5.1 shutout innings in three games in an ALDS loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Jonathan Papelbon, 2005 Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon was a prospect as a starter, who was being brought along slowly with the 2005 Red Sox. He made his major-league debut in 2005 and pitched 34.0 innings for the team, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.65 ERA.
That postseason, Papelbon appeared in two games in an ALDS loss to the eventual World Champion Chicago White Sox, allowing no runs in four innings of work.
Along the way, he also decided that he enjoyed life as a reliever quite a bit, and has been one ever since.
Ubaldo Jimenez, 2007 Colorado Rockies
Ubaldo actually made a 7.2 inning debut for the 2006 Rockies, but started the 2007 season in the minor leagues. After 19 starts and 103 innings, Ubaldo was called back to the big club and made 15 starts in the second half of the season as the Rockies made their amazing run into the playoffs.
Ubaldo was instrumental for the Rockies in the 2007 playoffs, pitching 11.1 combined innings in wins against the Phillies in the NLDS and the D'Backs in the NLCS.
David Price, 2008 Tampa Bay Rays
As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, David Price was on everyone's radar as a potential ace for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009.
When Tampa Bay made an unexpected (by everyone but me) run at the playoffs in 2008, the Rays called his number early, and after only 14.0 major league innings of 1.93 ERA, Price was on the postseason roster.
Price appeared in three games in the ALCS, holding the Red Sox to zero runs over 2.1 innings pitched. He then pitched 3.1 innings in the World Series against the Phillies.
John Lackey, 2002 Anaheim Angels
John Lackey pitched 101.2 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2002 before being called up to the majors, and starting 18 games as a 23-year-old rookie.
When the Angels won the AL Wild Card, Lackey was on the postseason roster, and didn't give up a run in 10 innings in the American League playoffs.
He started two World Series games, including Game Seven in which he threw five innings of one run ball on the way to a World Championship.
Andruw Jones, 1996 Atlanta Braves
Forget anything you've ever heard about super-prospects; you really can't top what Andruw Jones did in the minor leagues at the age of 19.
In 116 games, Jones stormed from High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A all the way to the majors in just one year. For the year in the minors, he hit 34 home runs with 115 runs scored, 92 RBI, 27 doubles, five triples, a .339 average, and a 1.072 slugging percentage.
And strangely, he was better at every level than he had been at the previous level.
The Braves called him up in time for him to play 31 games at the major-league level, where he struggled.
In the NLDS, he appeared in three games largely as a defensive sub, making only one appearance at the plate. In the NLCS, he appeared in five games and batted 12 times, hitting .222.
In the World Series, though, he started all six games, batting 24 times, and hitting .400 with a 1.250 OPS and two home runs.
As in the minors, Jones somehow got better at every level of the playoffs.
Francisco Rodriguez, 2002 Anaheim Angels
After pitching 83.1 relief innings in 2002 between Double-A and Triple-A, 20-year-old Francisco Rodriguez was called up to the Anaheim Angels and threw 5.2 innings, striking out a shocking 13 batters, and giving up no runs.
In the 2002 playoffs, the quickly dubbed "K-Rod" made 11 appearances, going 5-1 with five runs allowed, and 28 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched.
He was truly the sensation of the 2002 playoffs.
Miguel Cabrera, 2003 Florida Marlins
Cabrera appeared in 87 games at the tender age of 20 for the 2003 Florida Marlins, hitting .268 with 12 home runs.
Then, in the playoffs, he started every game and became the face of the Marlins' miracle run to the World Championship.
Livan Hernandez, 1997 Florida Marlins
Cuban defector Livan Hernandez actually made a three-inning debut with the Florida Marlins in 1996, but started the 1997 season in the minors again before being called up mid-year.
In 17 starts, the 22-year-old went 9-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 72 strikeouts.
In the postseason, Livan was a horse, pitching 27.2 innings, going 4-0 in three rounds of playoffs.
Livan started Game One and Game Five of the World Series for the Fish, and won the Series MVP.