Despite injury, Baker still feels the love from Cleveland
The MLB team added the 23-year-old pitcher to its 40-man roster, the ultimate compliment given Baker threw only five innings in 2015.
“I was pretty surprised. I knew I had a chance but also knew so many players had good years, and I have been injured the whole year,” Baker told me. “Definitely gives me a boost of confidence, especially being injured two years in a row. Just shows that they still believe in me.”
The 40-man roster is made up of players that have signed a big league contract and they can be called up to the 25-man roster at any time, which means he is just a phone call away from pitching in ‘The Show.’
Only three Alaskans have actual MLB experience – Marshall Boze and Chris Mabeus of Soldotna and Chad Bentz of Juneau.
Baker, a rocket-armed right-hander, pitched last season for the Class A Advanced Lynchburg Hillcats. In his lone start he threw five hitless innings and struck out a career-high nine batters.
Then he suffered a major right elbow injury that shut him down for the rest of the season.
“I have been rehabbing for a little over seven months now,” he said. “It’s a 12-month recovery if everything goes as planned.”
Baker has an 11-11 record and 3.68 ERA in 48 career games. He has 207 Ks in 242 innings. He is one of only nine Alaska pitchers to reach double-digit wins as the pro level.
He accepted an invitation to attend Cleveland’s spring training in Arizona but obviously won’t pitch. That doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy himself, though.
“It will be an awesome experience being around all the big leaguers,” Baker said.