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Alex Vesia’s Unlikely Rise to the Big Leagues

The left-hander’s work ethic helped him go from late-round draft pick to major league contributor in only two years.

MLB: JUL 25 Marlins at Phillies
Vesia made his MLB debut on Saturday.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In July of 2019, Alex Vesia was pitching for the Jupiter Hammerheads in High-A. One year later, he is coming out of the bullpen for the Miami Marlins.

The 24-year old lefty has been in the Marlins organization since 2018, but seemed to get onto everybody’s radar during spring and summer camp.

Of course, his meteoric rise to the big leagues was put on pause during the pandemic shutdown from March through the end of June. With nowhere to train and hone his craft, Vesia followed the mantra that he had followed since his days at Cal State East Bay: “Find a way.”

Before public parks and workout facilities started to open up in the summer, Vesia and his father started by building a plywood wall for Vesia to throw into. After it rained a few times in their home town outside of San Diego, the wall became too weak. Luckily for the rookie, he still had a memory foam mattress from his college days that he was able to put in front of the wall. After adding a thick welding blanket over the mattress, Vesia and his father had constructed the perfect pitching backstop.

“I take it to heart,” Vesia said. “Because over the course of my career so far, I feel like I’ve always found a way to get better, or to just make the most of everything. It was a critical point, because I wasn’t going to just sit there and let days go by and not try to get better.”

Of course, this was a collective family effort to keep Vesia in shape this spring. Vesia eventually started throwing into a net once things started to slowly open back up, while his mother would sit next to the net and throw the pitches back to him. Vesia joked that “that was her exercise, because she didn’t want to sit on the couch all day”.

Vesia admitted there were times where he’d get frustrated at himself. And his mom would remind him that “this is all going to pay off.”

Sure enough, while Vesia and the rest of the Marlins’ rookies were sitting in their socially distanced locker room last week, he was called into Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill’s office. Mike asked Vesia where he started the 2019 season. Vesia responded that he was in Low-A.

“And where are you now?” Hill asked.

“Fighting for a spot in the big leagues,” Vesia said.

“No,” Hill said. “You’re in the big leagues”

With that statement, everything that Vesia had been dreaming about since the beginning of high school had come to fruition.

“Sure enough, when I called her yesterday, my family was all on the phone,” Vesia said. “My mom was like, ‘See? All the throwing into the net paid off.’”

Vesia wasted no time in his debut against the Phillies on Saturday. He entered the game in the 6th inning and struck out the first batter he faced, Didi Gregorius.

Fish Stripes original GIF