In 2008, 1,504 players were drafted into Major League Baseball.
Scott Diamond was not one of them.
“When that draft really came around, I was really hoping to be picked,” said the left-handed pitcher before his start, which came against the Cleveland Indians. “When it didn’t happen it was a little heartbreaking.”
On Monday, July 18, however, he did something many of those players did not.
He made his first major league start. “It’s been," he said, "a long journey.”
His journey began in Guelph, Ontario.
Home to Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks) and Rich Peverley (Boston Bruins), Guelph, which is located between Detroit and Buffalo, is known for producing hockey players.
Baseball has a big presence in Southern Ontario, however.
“You know, it’s just…a much more populous area, so baseball’s just a little more popular there.”
He added, however, that British Columbia also has a strong baseball presence.
Two of his teammates also hail from Canada: Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) and Rene Tosoni (Toronto).
Morneau was drafted by the Twins out of high school (third round, 1999) and chose the minor leagues over collegiate baseball.
Tosoni (36th, 2005) played two years at Chipola Junior College in Florida before entering the Twins farm system in 2007.
“It’s tough to play baseball in Canada just because [the colleges are] more focused on the academic side of things,” said Diamond, who played three years at Binghamton University, located on the New York-Pennsylvania border.
“If you really want to pursue playing baseball you usually have to come to the US.”
Diamond chose Binghamton because of its academic reputation.
“I wanted to go for engineering,” says Diamond, who, according to the university’s website, is finishing up his degree, “That was one of the few schools that offered that for me.”
The lefty pitched three years for the Bearcats but chose to leave the school after three years to pursue professional baseball.
“I ended up signing with the Braves two days before I had to return for my senior year,” said Diamond, who was recognized by scouts Paul Faulk and Monty Goldberg. “So that was kinda surprising to not only the coaches, but to myself that that’s when the opportunity came.”
He had to say quick goodbyes before departing to Rome, Georgia (60 miles northwest of Atlanta) to join the Class-A Rome Braves.
“It was a little tough,” he said. “I had a lot of friends that were there that I had to leave behind, but those are still friends today. Those are good guys and I had a lot of memories there. It was a lot of fun.”
Diamond felt out of place joining the Braves as an undrafted college player; however, as he moved up the organizational ladder, he became more comfortable.
“When I moved up to the next level,” he said, “there was a lot of college guys, and so we were all coming from the same background.
“That really helped out, helped me fit in a little bit.”
He spent two years in the Braves organization and then, on Dec. 9, 2010, he was selected by the Twins in the Rule 5 Draft, which is designed to keep teams from stockpiling minor league players.
He was working out at the time, so he found out two hours later, after his phone “blew up” with text messages.
After eight months in the Twins minor league system, he got a call from Minnesota letting him know that he would be pitching to Joe Mauer in front of the bright lights at Target Field.
“I felt I was more nervous when I was told that I was coming up here,” he said when asked about the butterflies he had before the start. “But when I got out there throwing with Joe in the bullpen I think it just went away.”
The call-up was unexpected. The team had a double-header and veteran Scott Baker was put on the disabled list the night before and the logical second game starter, Kevin Slowey, had pitched Friday.
Diamond pitched 6.1 innings and allowed four runs, three of them earned, on seven hits. He walked two, struck out one and gave up a home run in the seventh inning.
“It was unbelievable,” said Diamond, who received a standing ovation as he left the mound.
“It’s awesome having that crowd here and to have the support of my teammates and everything, it was a great game.”
Of the 38,000 people at Target Field who stood and applauded him, few probably knew that he was the first Guelph native to start a Major League Baseball game since Bob Emslie of the Baltimore Orioles in 1883.
They probably had no idea that he was the first Binghamton Bearcat to don a major league uniform.
Or that he was never drafted.
To them, he was a pitcher that had an outstanding debut.
Scott Diamond is a major leaguer.
Tom Schreier is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the Minnesota Twins.
Follow him on Twitter @tschreier3.