UPDATED: Fmr. Illini Pitcher Joey Gerber Called Up by Seattle; Pitches Perfect 6th Frame in MLB Debut

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Former Illinois closer Joey Gerber was called up to Major League Baseball Tuesday to join Seattle Mariners for the first time in his career.

Gerber was added to the 40-man roster, posted to the Mariners active 30-man roster Tuesday in order to be in uniform for Seattle when they hosted the Los Angeles Angels tonight at 9:10 p.m. CST. on ESPN.

UPDATE: On the night of his call-up Tuesday, Gerber was called out of the bullpen in the sixth inning with Seattle down 3-0. Gerber completed a perfect 1-2-3 frame that included inducing Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, who had homered early in the game, to ground out to the second baseman. 

According to the club's media release, left-handed pitcher Taylor Guilbeau was also being added to Seattle's 30-man roster after he was coming from the alternate training site. Right-handed pitcher Kendall Graveman (0-2, 8.32) was placed on the 10-day injury list with nick spasm. 

“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” Gerber said in a Zoom video interview with local reporters in June. “I’m just going to take it day-by-day because that’s all you really can do in this situation with everything that’s going on in the world. Not many people get this opportunity to be in Seattle.”

Gerber was drafted by Seattle in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB Draft with the 238th overall selection. Since being drafted, Gerber has risen through four different minor league affiliates and was promoted to the Arkansas Travelers last June, the organization’s Double-A team. Gerber went 1-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 19 appearances. He struck out 30 hitters in 22.2 innings pitched.

Mariners general manager Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told local reporters in a Zoom video conference before the 2020 season started  that the idea of having a prospect like Gerber pitch to Major League hitters with this quick a turnaround isn’t ideal but the new normal in professional baseball after dealing with COVID-19 shutdown orders across the country.

Gerber, who graduated from the University of Illinois in three years with a degree in accountancy, was one of the top relievers in the Big Ten in 2018. The right-hander converted on 14 of 14 save opportunities to tie the Illinois single-season record set by Tyler Jay in 2015 (eventually broken by Garrett Acton in 2019). Gerber's 93-95 MPH fastball helped him strike out 45 batters in 28 2/3 innings and have a 3.14 ERA and .182 batting average against.

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