Major League Baseball
Bedrosian’s road to majors victory over adversity
by Chris Goltermann
Steve Bedrosian’s phone rang at 5:45 a.m., Monday morning, his 22-year-old son Cam on the other end from Little Rock following a 12-hour bus ride from San Antonio with his Double-A teammates in the minor leagues.
It might not have seemed out of the ordinary at first, despite the timing. Daily phone calls have become even more common for the father and son the past three years, at least in the rarer moments when Steve and wife Tammy haven’t been able to watch their son pitch while following him for three seasons of Single and Double-A ball.
In the four years since the stout 6-1, 200-pound right-hander was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Angels, the current professional pitcher in the family has often confided in the other with an abundance of wisdom and a Cy Young Award in the house to prove it.
Some of the conversations between the 14-year MLB veteran and his son, a highly touted 2010 first-round draft pick who was forced to battle back from Tommy John surgery the following year, have been true heart-to-hearts.
“He really started putting things since pitching in Arizona,” Steve said of a stint last fall where he was named an All-Star. “Some of it’s been a mix of bad luck. He’s been at the bottom of the barrel. But he’s fought through it.”
Things didn’t work out quite the way Cam may have wanted immediately after being drafted with the 29th overall pick in 2010, having showcased a 90 mph fastball at East Coweta High in front of scouts from all but one major league team.
He struggled in his first two years, posting ERAs of 4.50 and 6.31 in between his surgery. It can be commonplace in the minors where Double-A teammate and fellow Georgian Kaleb Cowart — who was selected 11 spots higher than Bedrosian by the Angels — is batting .200.
By his 21st birthday, however, Bedrosian was beginning to find his stride with the Burlington Bees of the Midwest League while averaging over 11 strikeouts per nine innings.
This spring has only provided a final dose of confidence.
“That’s all that was missing,” Steve said.
It came with the younger Bedrosian dominating opposing hitters at both High-A Inland Empire and the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, combining for a 1.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 24 innings.
“I’ve told him before it’s going to turn around,” Steve said. “I thought that the way he was pitching, he was going to be eventually rewarded by being promoted to Triple-A.”
Cam’s words Monday morning nearly confirmed his father’s own beliefs to one slight change. Instead, he had bypassed Triple-A Salt Lake and was on his way to the big leagues for the first time.
“Obviously we’re elated,” said Steve while preparing to watch the Angels play the second of a three-game series in Houston. “This is something he’s worked so hard for.”
Just over 36 hours later after telling his family news that needed to be kept under wraps with the exception of close family and friends since a transaction had yet to be completed, Cam was in uniform at Minute Maid Park.
Prior to the opening pitch in his new No. 68 jersey, he received some congratulatory hugs from a group that included his four siblings before making his major league debut in the sixth inning of a 5-0 deficit — a perfect time as any for a rookie to get over any potential first-game jitters.
It certainly didn’t seem for affect a pitcher whose middle name is “Rock,” however.
“I thought it was a perfect situation. I gave him a hug before the game and didn’t seem nervous at all,” said Steve, who made his debut as a 23-year-old reliever in August of 1981 at Dodger Stadium before picking up his first career win the following day. “Our careers have really been similar in a lot of ways.”
Cam’s auspicious debut on Tuesday began with a strikeout of Jonathan Viller while retiring three Astros including a former high school nemesis of alma-mater East Coweta, in order.
After Viller, his first major league batter, then got both Dexter Fowler and Jose Altuve to ground out to end a 1-2-3 inning where he threw 9 of his 13 pitches for strikes. Among them were also nine fastballs, the last of which registered 96 mph.
The chance to retire Fowler may have provided equal satisfaction, especially for East Coweta baseball fans who remember the one-time Milton High star outfielder nearly single-handedly prevented an Indians lineup that included older brother Kyle and future MLB draft picks Brad Emaus and Kieron Pope from winning a potential state title in 2004.
“They’re all great hitters [in the majors],” Steve said. “Altuve is no easy out either.”
Should Bedrosian —whose full beard now brings an even closer resemblance to his father’s photos on baseball cards —continue to fall in good favor with the organization, he’ll travel along with the team to Atlanta for next week’s trip to Turner Field just in time for Father’s Day.
Faith, however, is as much a fixture for the young pitcher, who often posts Bible verses on his Twitter page.
Late Tuesday, Cam addressed his supporters on the website by writing “Thanks to everyone for the love and support! Would(n’t) be where I am today without y’all! But I’m giving all the glory to God! Psalm 18:2”
The verse also features Bedrosian’s middle name beginning with the familiar words, “The Lord is my Rock.”