OAKLAND -- Greg Mahle began to play baseball at around the age of 5 and never much considered doing anything else.Being here, in the Major Leagues?"I haven't not thought about it a day in my life," Mahle said. "It's unbelievable, of course."The Angels made Mahle's lifelong dream come true on
OAKLAND -- Greg Mahle began to play baseball at around the age of 5 and never much considered doing anything else.
Being here, in the Major Leagues?
"I haven't not thought about it a day in my life," Mahle said. "It's unbelievable, of course."
The Angels made Mahle's lifelong dream come true on Monday, adding the 22-year-old lefty to their bullpen for the start of an 11-day road trip. Mahle takes the place of fellow reliever A.J. Achter, barely a week after losing out to Cam Bedrosian for the final bullpen spot on the Opening Day roster.
Ranked 12th in the Angels' system by MLBPipeline.com, Mahle pitches from two different arm slots -- three-quarters and sidearm -- and commands three pitches, a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, a slider thrown with varying velocities and a solid changeup. The Angels love his moxie, his deception, and the way he profiles against left-handed hitters, of which the A's have plenty.
Mahle, the eighth player from the 2014 Draft to reach the Majors, pitched to a 3.26 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and a 4.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio for Class A Advanced Inland Empire and Double-A Arkansas last year.
The Angels then invited Mahle to Spring Training for an up-close look, and he very nearly won a spot on their team.
"It gives me extra confidence coming in," Mahle said of succeeding against Major League competition throughout March. "I know that if I go out and challenge guys, I'll be successful."
Mahle was given the news on Sunday, after a day game for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. He had gone three days without being used, so Mahle figured something may be up. But he left to his apartment that day without being told anything.
Then he got a phone call from an unrecognized number, returned to the ballpark and went into manager Keith Johnson's office, who asked Mahle if he watched the Angels game on Sunday.
When Mahle said yes, Johnson told him, "You're going to get to see them up close in Oakland."
His first call went to his father, also named Greg. Mahle didn't just think about playing in the big leagues; he thought about how he would tell his Dad when that day finally came. And like most of this stuff, it didn't turn out quite so smoothly.
"Hey," Mahle told his dad, "can you get a ticket to Oakland?"
The elder Greg was confused.
"I got the call," Mahle said.
"What do you mean?"
"He's just, like, super confused," Mahle recalled. "I had to spell it out for him."
Mahle's mom cried instantly. Eventually, his dad got it, too. And later, after it all set in, they spent the night talking on the phone. Mahle's parents were able to make the trip to Oakland, as did his aunt, his uncle, his cousin and his agent. His mom brought him a suit, because the Angels have a strict dress code on travel days and Mahle didn't really pack for that sort of thing.
"I can't wait," Mahle said -- regarding the baseball games, not the formal attire. "I can't wait."
Mahle attended Westminster High School, just east of Huntington Beach, then went to UC Santa Barbara, ultimately getting drafted in the 15th round. He grew up a Dodgers fan, rooting for Shawn Green and Eric Gagne and, until this Major League Baseball thing began to feel real, Andre Ethier.
"Plying in front of the fans, playing the game that you love as a job," Mahle said of what he imagined about being a big leaguer. "Watching the playoffs, that pressure -- I can't wait for that."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast.