Jordan Zimmermann's MLB debut with the Washington Nationals ended over five hours after it was originally scheduled to start with the 22-year-old right-hander earning his first major league win in the 3-2 DC victory over Atlanta.
Zimmermann, who played his college ball in Division III, with the Univ. of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, now finds himself pitching in the big leagues.
I happened to see Zimmermann pitch in 2006, at the D3 World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin. His school was one of the participants, along with my son's team, Wheaton College. Zimmermann pitched the opening game for the pointers, against Marietta (the eventual national champs and the team that Wheaton finished runners-up to) and their ace, Mike Eisenberg. Both pitchers would eventually be drafted, Zimmermann in the 2nd round and Eisenberg, in the 7th, during ML draft a week later. Marietta won, 2-1, but it was evident watching both these pitchers that they were destined for bigger things. Both pitchers struck out 11, and exhibited poise and command that isn't the norm in Division III.
Eisenberg's professional success was limited to two seasons with in the minors, and last year, he spent the summer playing independent ball in the Frontier League. He appears to be out of professional baseball at this point.
Zimmermann, on the other hand, has continued to improve and has had success at each rung of the minor league ladder. As he characterized himself in an interview, he is the prototypical "late bloomer," who now has a fastball that is consistently in the mid-90s, after probably not throwing much harder than 88, or 89, in college.
Here's a bit more from Beyond the Box Score, on the kid's debut.
It's nice to see Zimmermann at the big league level and here's to hoping he finds much success in the coming season. Given the Nats struggles to find pitching, Zimmermann will certainly warrant another start or two. I'll be following these closely. This could be one of those feel good stories that makes following sports worthwhile.