Fmr. Illini closer Joey Gerber Invited to Seattle Mariners' 60-player training roster

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Former Illini closer Joey Gerber was invited to the Seattle Mariners' 60-player training roster, the club announced Sunday. Gerber is one of 22 non-roster invitees to the Mariners' camp.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” Gerber said in a Zoom video interview with local reporters on Monday. “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 last week 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.

“With the exception of the short-relief guys like (Sam) Delaplane and (Joey) Gerber and (Aaron) Fletcher, the rest of the group didn’t get the development time that they would’ve on the front end of this season,” Dipoto said. “The idea of taking players who haven’t had those experiences or been built up appropriately, and just throwing them into the deep end of the pool, at a time when the threat of injury if not handled appropriately is higher, we have to manage that properly, and we will. We’ll do the right thing.”

Gerber was one of the top relievers in the Big Ten in 2018, converting 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.

Gerber left college baseball after graduating from Illinois in three years with a degree in accountancy. He was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

The official reporting day for MLB training camp is Wednesday, July 1. Workouts are expected to begin on Friday, July 3. The 2020 regular season begins on either Thursday, July 23 or Friday, July 24.

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