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John Holdzkom goes from prospect bust and anonymous podcast caller to the big leagues

Sep 3, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT


Two years ago (October 16, 2012 to be exact) I was listening to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast when an anonymous 24-year-old caller named “John” told her the story of how his once-promising baseball career went downhill and he blew through his $210,000 signing bonus after being drafted by the Mets out of high school.

Here’s part of my recap at the time:

Peretti asked: “And then what happened, you started sucking at baseball?”

“They thought I was a good baseball player,” our mystery man explained, adding that he was a pitcher before his “elbow blew out” and he spent most of the signing bonus on a truck and “buying sushi every night.”

I did a little internet detective work and discovered the caller was 24-year-old right-hander John Holdzkom, a former Mets fourth-round draft pick who at the time was pitching for them at Single-A. They later released him and Holdzkom had to play independent ball just to keep his dream alive.

He pitched for two different independent league teams this year alone, but then the Pirates signed him and sent Holdzkom to Double-A. He thrived there, kept pitching well following a promotion to Triple-A, and then got the call up to the big leagues as part of September roster expansion.

Last night Holdzkom, now 26 years old, made his MLB debut. And it was a helluva debut, too: He struck out all three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth inning against the Cardinals.

Here’s our hero in action:


I just hope Holdzkom calls back in to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast to update his story.

  1. banksatdixie - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    For the record he didn’t get drafted by the Mets out of high school. He was drafted by the Mets out of Salt Lake Community College. I only know this because I played against him and remember how hard he threw, but had zero control at the time.

  2. fleaman1381 - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    I just hope he doesn’t start to suddenly suck at baseball.

  3. Caught Looking - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    An now he gets $120 meal money for his sushi

  4. asimonetti88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Pretty cool… and shows the value of hard work!

  5. Wesley Clark - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    And he brought the Palmball back. Great story.

  6. sethcohenplayedsomeball - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    There once was a prospect named John
    Won’t call Chelsea lately he gone?
    Sushi did not help him win
    But now he channels Lance Lynn
    Leading Pirates foes straight to gin.

  7. sethcohenplayedsomeball - Sep 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Ahh: ( I think you guys who thumbed down my limerick didn’t understand it; I am so happy and proud for him-he is living the dreams guys-a Lance Lynn comparison is way complementary!!! Maybe anti-Pirates folks with the thumbs? All The Best to John-From Someone Who Loves The Game: )

  8. sethcohenplayedsomeball - Sep 3, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    Ok guys, lets try this one more time:

    I am not being sarcastic in any way, I am elated for John and his story, and want him to succeed more than you can possibly imagine.

    Craig back me up man, please, you have read my posts before and know where I come from.

    To the thumbers: If you can’t see that I am rooting for this player like crazy, well you are blinder than (insert appropriate umpire when he made an incorrect call that went unreversed against your team) and I can’t really help you.

    Enjoy September ball everybody!: )

    • futbolhistorian - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      Maybe it has nothing to do with what your intent was. Maybe the peeps just don’t like your limerick.

    • hiflew - Sep 5, 2014 at 7:49 AM

      I appreciate the effort, but the limerick isn’t correct. The rhyming verse is 1-1-2-2-1. In other words, the last line is supposed to rhyme with the first two lines, not the 3rd and 4th lines. Better luck next time.

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