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After battling injuries, Tessar gets chance with D-backs

PHOENIX -- In 2010, the Blue Jays took outfielder Brando Tessar in the 25th round (756th overall) of the First-Year Player Draft.

Four years, one surgery and a position change later, the D-backs took pitcher Brando Tessar in the 25th round (750th overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

"It's kind of unexpected and last minute, so I'm relieved to do it and happy to keep playing," Tessar said.

Tessar turned down the Blue Jays' offer in 2010 and elected to attend the University of Oregon after graduating from Chaminade College Prepatory School in Canoga Park, Calif.

"I told all the teams that I wanted to go to college," Tessar said. "I guess I took it for granted a little bit out of high school, I would say. I knew I was going to college.

"I was very happy and I felt blessed to be drafted out of high school, but now I know that's what I want to do. I want to keep playing baseball. I was much more excited to get drafted this time around."

But it was at Oregon where his career was jeopardized.

During his sophomore year, he suffered a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow, forcing him to sit out half of the season.

Tessar started working his way back, but rushed his rehab in 2013 and damaged his right shoulder. He ended up pitching only 6 2/3 innings for the Ducks that season.

Tessar had to undergo surgery to repair his right shoulder in June 2013 and he has since worked his way back to the diamond, pitching in 14 games (10 starts) and notching a 4-2 record with a 4.26 ERA. He showed superb control, striking out 43 batters while walking only nine.

"This is the best my arm has felt in the past four years," Tessar said.

Tessar said he throws his fastballs in the upper 80s to low 90s, a curveball in the upper 70s and a low-80s changeup. Since he's been healthy, he's been working to better those pitches.

"My velocity's been a little down since my injuries, but it's been coming up recently," he said. "I've been a command pitcher and working multiple pitches this past year and kind of pitched to contact. My strikeout numbers are pretty good, and my stuff's getting better as my arm gets stronger and stronger."

The Ducks fell in the NCAA Regionals, and for all he knew, Tessar's baseball career was over.

He watched the first two days of the Draft go by on his computer as four of his teammates got selected. And that's how Tessar found out he'd have a future in baseball -- through his computer screen.

"It was a long road. It was hard to get back," Tessar said. "It was a lot of doubt and questioning whether or not I could get back to full strength, and throughout the year [I] just kept getting stronger and stronger. Turned out that I have an opportunity to keep playing. I was very thankful for it."

Said D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery: "At certain parts in the draft, you're looking for different things. Brando fit the mold right there."

Tessar is glad he has a chance, but that's about all he has -- a chance. Since the 2000 Draft, only about five percent of players taken in the 25th round have made it to the Major Leagues.

But one thing that may work in Tessar's favor is his versatility. In his time in college, he started when he could and other times came out of the bullpen.

"I've always loved starting," he said. "But I did get used to the relieving role the first half of the season and I was comfortable out of the bullpen. Wherever they put me at, I'm comfortable."

Tessar said he wasn't sure where the D-backs planned to use him, but Montgomery said wherever he fits the organization the best is where he'll play.

"We'll let it play out," Montgomery said. "Obviously his last few games he's been starting out there, but we'll certainly see how where things are and how he feels and we'll manage to find the right role for him."

Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for
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