Los Angeles Dodgers young left-handed pitcher Caleb Ferguson came out of nowhere in 2018 to become one of the team’s best relievers in the second half of the season.
The 38th round draft pick of the Dodgers in the 2014 Draft was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery his senior year of high school but it surprisingly did not take him long to work his way through the Minor League ranks after making his professional debut in 2015.
From the time he made his MLB debut in June as a starter to how he looked in September and October as a relief pitcher was a huge difference though.
Ferguson credited some of his veteran teammates for helping him adjust to big league life, particularly Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, via MLB.com:
“He’s obviously a great role model to look at. I mean, he’s been the best to do it for as long as I’ve been alive, really. To be able to have a guy like him and pick his brain and even a guy like Rich Hill, Alex Wood, all these guys, has been unbelievable for me. Just to be around guys like that and see how they go about their business, how they go about their day every single day, there’s never really a day off for guys like Rich or Clayton. To be around them, hear how they talk about the game, how they talk about pitching to guys, and all their scouting reports, it’s definitely been good for me being so young in my career.”
Between the regular season and postseason, Ferguson pitched to an excellent 3.29 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 62 strikeouts and 13 walks in 52 innings pitched. As a reliever, he had an even better 2.18 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 41.1 innings.
What Ferguson’s role for the team in 2019 will be remains to be seen, but given the team’s current starting rotation depth, it is unlikely that he will earn a spot in the rotation.
Even if he is a reliever, Ferguson should continue to learn from veterans like Kershaw and Hill as he will likely return to his natural starters role at some point.