Graham is the 123rd former Northwoods League player to debut in MLB
Rochester, Minn. – Former Madison Mallards pitcher J.R Graham made his Major League debut for the Minnesota Twins on Monday, April 6, 2015. Graham is the 123rd former Northwoods League player to reach the Major League level.
Graham, who played collegiately at Santa Clara University, played for the Madison Mallards in 2009 and 2010. Graham was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 4th round of the 2011 MLB draft.
In 2009 with the Mallards, Graham was 1-2 with three saves while posting a 4.66 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched. The right-hander had an excellent season with the Mallards in 2010 as he finished the season with a 2.75 ERA, tallying 28 strikeouts in 32.2 innings pitched, and a team-high seven saves.
Graham began his Minor League career in 2011 with the Danville Braves of the Rookie Appalachian League. Graham pitched in 13 games and started eight while amassing five wins and a 1.72 ERA. He also struck out 52 batters in 57.2 innings pitched.
The 2012 season saw Graham start the season in Hi A with the Lynchburg Hillcats of the Carolina league before being promoted after 17 games to the AA Mississippi Braves in the Southern League. Graham went a combined 12-2 with a 2.80 ERA over 26 games. He also struck out 110 batters while walking 34 in 128 innings pitched.
Graham spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons again with the Mississippi Braves in the Southern league before being selected by the Minnesota Twins in last winters’ MLB Rule 5 Draft.
In his Major League debut, versus the Detroit Tigers, Graham entered the game in the 7th inning in relief of Twins starter Phil Hughes. Graham pitched two innings, allowing no runs with two hits and one walk.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 21 year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.