Paris debuts while Mom watches: 'She's always in the game'

Angels' No. 6 prospect reaches base three times in front of friends, family in Oakland

September 2nd, 2023

OAKLAND -- Mom couldn’t help herself.

Angels shortstop was creeping off the first-base bag in the third inning of Friday's 9-2 loss to the A’s, when Oakland southpaw JP Sears threw a pickoff attempt in his direction.

“Back!” Kimberly Paris yelled, before her whole section started busting up laughing.

Little League or the big leagues -- it’s all the same when it’s your kid running around the diamond.

“I couldn’t help it,” Kimberly Paris told with a laugh. “I won't do it anymore!”

Paris made his Major League debut on Friday after getting the callup from Double-A Rocket City, and it couldn’t have come at a better time with the Angels in Oakland for a three-game weekend series. The 21-year-old was born and raised in nearby Oakley, Calif. -- roughly 50 miles away from the Coliseum -- rooting for his favorite A’s players like Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks.

Paris was just 17 when the Angels selected him in the second round of the 2019 Draft. He had committed to nearby Cal, but ended up on the fast track to the big leagues. Now he has played on the very same historic field of his childhood idols, with more than 50 friends and family in attendance behind the Angels' dugout for his debut.

What's more, his parents, Kimberly and LeJon, were both born and raised in Oakland. They couldn’t believe that was their son standing on third base with Shohei Ohtani in the batter’s box on Friday night.

“It’s insane,” LeJon Paris said. “It’s definitely what dreams are made of. This is what he dreamt of growing up, being able to debut here at home and have your neighbors and friends and family come to see his debut -- high school coaches, Little League coaches -- it’s surreal. There’s no other way to put it.”

Mom and Dad held their breath when Paris got hit by a pitch near the left knee in his first big-league at-bat, but were relieved when they saw him running down to first base. Paris became the first player to be hit by a pitch in his first Major League at-bat since the A's Brent Rooker in 2020 (when Rooker was with the Twins).

Paris reached base on an error in the fifth and drew a walk in the ninth, reaching base three times and accounting for two assists and showing off his impressive arm from shortstop. Paris also cut off an outfield throw in the fourth inning that allowed A’s speedster Esteury Ruiz to score from first base, but it’s all part of the process.

After the game, he spent about 20 minutes catching up with his family.

“It was definitely different than any other game,” Paris said. “Just a little bit more special. It’s the big leagues.”

His mom even gave him some pointers after his debut. Some things never change.

“She’s always in the game,” Paris said. “She was critiquing me after the game. She’s really hands on, since Day 1.”

Paris, the Angels' No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is the latest Angels youngster to make the leap from Double-A to the big leagues this season, joining first baseman Nolan Schanuel, shortstop Zach Neto and right-handed reliever Ben Joyce.

“It’s a leap that they prepare us for,” Paris said. “We put in work every day down at Double-A, and they do a great job. They really prepare us, and that’s the ultimate goal -- to get here and be ready. Some of my fellow teammates have done the same leap, so we’re kind of accustomed to it. … We built a good camaraderie playing together, so it’s special to have those guys around us.”

The Angels made a flurry of roster moves over the past few days, as Paris was one of seven new faces in the clubhouse Friday after a quintet of players were claimed off waivers and the rosters expanded from 26 to 28. Before the game, general manager Perry Minasian said he didn’t have any regrets about going all-in at the Deadline and reversing course following an 8-19 record in August.

“It’s baseball,” Minasian said. “Sometimes you do things that work. Sometimes you do things that don’t.”