CARLSBAD — His dream came true.
On July 1, Carlsbad native Thomas Eshelman made his big-league debut taking the hill as the starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
With his parents, Rosemary and Dave Eshelman, in attendance at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, Thomas Eshelman had a solid performance pitching five innings allowing six hits, two earned runs and one walk in a no decision. Eshelman was in line for the win as the Orioles took a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning, but the Rays rallied in the bottom half of the inning for three runs to seal a 6-3 win.
On July 2, though, Thomas Eshelman was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. Eshelman was unable for comment after several requests were made through the Orioles organization.
“It’s been a long road,” Thomas Eshelman told MLB.com. “For me to be here, it’s unbelievable. Hopefully I can work hard enough to stay.”
Still, the night was a massive success for the Eshelmans, as Rosemary and Dave Eshelman sat in the stands watching anxiously as their son realized his dream.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Rosemary Eshelman said last week. “He pitched really well.”
Thomas Eshelman’s road to the major leagues began on the fields of Carlsbad and North County. He was dominant at Carlsbad High School, which earned him a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton, one of the premier college baseball programs in the country.
With the Titans, Thomas Eshelman developed into one of the best starting pitchers in the nation, leading CSF to three Big West Conference championships and an appearance in the 2015 College World Series.
Eshelman’s senior season in 2015 saw him named first team All-American, the BWC Pitcher of the Year and a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award (nation’s best collegiate player). He went 8-5 with five complete games and a 1.58 ERA. He pitched 137 innings in 19 games (18 starts), struck out 139 hitters, had just 24 earned runs and an eye-popping seven walks allowed.
He set two school career records for ERA (1.65) and walks allowed per nine innings (0.43), and is tied for first with four complete-game shutouts.
He was drafted in 2015 in the second round by the Houston Astros before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016. In June, however, the Phillies traded Eshelman to the Orioles, where he spent several weeks with their Triple-A affiliate before being called up.
On July 1 the first inning was a bit rough for Thomas Eshelman, who gave up two runs before working out of a bases-loaded jam. From the second inning on, however, he was dominant facing 13 batters and allowing no runs.
“I think it was a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement, anxious to be out there,” he told MLB.com. “After a bumpy first, I calmed down.”
“I was impressed,” manager Brandon Hyde added. “He gave me a little Kyle Hendricks feel, of a guy being able to work both sides of the plate and throw off-speed in fastball counts. Nice tempo, looked like a pro.”
Also, Baltimore plays in San Diego for a two-game set July 29 and July 30 at Petco Park, although it is not certain Thomas Eshelman will be on the roster.
Photo Caption: Carlsbad native Thomas Eshelman, fourth from left, poses with his family after his Major League Baseball debut July 1 for the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched five innings for a no decision in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Rays. Courtesy Rosemary Eshelman
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.