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'It's unbelievable': John Schreiber concludes fairy-tale rise to Tigers

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
John Schreiber finally got the call to the big leagues on Thursday after working his way up the Tigers' farm system since 2016.

Detroit — There haven’t been too many feel-good stories around the Tigers this season, but this was one.

Among several moves Thursday, the Tigers called up relief pitcher John Schreiber from Triple-A Toledo.

Schreiber, 25, is a Rockwood native who graduated from Gibraltar Carlson in 2012, pitched junior college at Henry Ford College when no university offered him a scholarship and then ultimately pitched collegiately at the University of Northwestern Ohio before being drafted by the Tigers in the 15th round in 2016.

It was easy to appreciate the pure joy surrounding Schreiber hours before Thursday’s game at Comerica Park.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Schreiber said. “I grew up watching them (Tigers) play, and just putting in the hard work, it was my dream to be here. I don’t even have the words to say how blessed I am to be here.

“I have to say thank you to all the guys in the organization, all the coaches who helped me to get here.

“When I got drafted I hoped to have the opportunity to be here. I worked my way up and kept my head down and kept working, and I didn’t try to worry about anything else.”

Schreiber joined the Mud Hens on April 24 after pitching five games in Double-A Erie. In Toledo, Schreiber was 5-4 with three saves, a 2.83 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He also struck out 59 in 47.2 innings.

Schreiber worked his way up the Tigers’ system, going from Single-A Connecticut (2016), to Single-A West Michigan (2017), to Erie (2018-19) and Toledo.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of Schreiber’s promotion. “He came in here real excited. He’s wide-eyed right now, real excited to be here. I like that part of it. He’s pumped up and this means a lot to him.

“Good for him. He made it happen. He pitched well enough to be the guy (promoted).”

Schreiber’s rise from obscurity to the major leagues is an example of how a prospect can develop.

“They are good stories because it goes to show you once you get a chance in professional baseball, anything can happen,” Gardenhire said. “Guys develop and get stronger. You sign a lot of these guys hoping that would happen. That’s what scouts do, thinking maybe some day, and some of these stories work out pretty good.

“You never know when you sign a kid, not until he gets in there and plays every day.”

Schreiber received the news he’d be going to the Tigers before Wednesday’s game in Toledo from Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz.

“I kind of broke down when he said that,” Schreiber said. “I was silent for about 10 minutes, my mind was just blank. I couldn’t believe it.

“All the guys there were real excited. It was a great moment.”

Schreiber’s first phone call about the news was to his wife Rebecca, whom he proposed to at Comerica Park in 2016.

“She was emotional, we were both emotional,” Schreiber said. “She was crying. My entire family was super stoked.”

Schreiber expected at least 14 family members on hand for Thursday’s game and an undetermined number of friends.

Schreiber’s story, he hopes, can be an inspiration to countless young players out there.

“Just never give up and put in your work and keep your head down,” he said. “Just keep working at it and hit the weight room (he’s gained 40 pounds since graduating high school).

“I didn’t have any (college) offers, I was just looking for somewhere to play. Henry Ford contacted me and said you can come here and play here (junior college). I just tried to work my tail off trying to get other colleges to look at me.”

Schreiber arrived at Comerica Park on Thursday around 11 a.m., getting acclimated to the stadium and meeting the team’s coaching staff and players.

“I was here so early, I was just so excited to meet everybody and get used to being here,” Schreiber said. “I’m ready to go out there and compete.”

Schreiber has always been a side-arm pitcher, something he’s always been comfortable with, and the deception has been effective.

“Just over the years my arm felt comfortable dropping down,” Schreiber said. “It kind of developed that way.”

The major leagues are a long way from junior college, but Schreiber’s attitude was the same Thursday as it was pitching at Henry Ford College.

“You’re not thinking about that stuff (major leagues), you’re going out there and having some fun,” Schreiber said. “Just like right now. Go out there and have fun and help the team out.”

Around the horn

Schreiber was called up along with left-handed reliever Matt Hall, while officially designating reliever Trevor Rosenthal for assignment and optioning reliever Eduardo Jimenez to Toledo.

In the midst of a busy schedule and with an overworked bullpen, Schreiber and Hall provide options for Gardenhire.

“They’ve been throwing well and we need innings,” Gardenhire said. “We have to get through these games (four more before a day off). We need fresh arms and they are fresh arms.”

… Infielder Josh Harrison (hamstring tendon strain) and outfielder Christin Stewart (concussion) both are continuing rehab assignments in Toledo. Harrison, out since May 28, will be re-evaluated after approximately 40 at-bats and Stewart sooner than that.

Royals at Tigers

First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Friday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

RHP Brad Keller (7-11, 3.95), Royals: The 6-foot-5 right-hander has been effective over the last seven games, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 1.20 WHIP while striking out 34 in 46 innings.

RHP Edwin Jackson (1-5, 11.12), Tigers: Jackson will take the mound in a Detroit jersey for the first time in a decade. The Tigers signed him to a minor-league deal two weeks ago and assigned him to Toledo, where he posted a 5.87 ERA and gave up 11 hits and eight runs in 7.2 innings.

Twitter: @tkulfan