John Stephen Holdzkom
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 8", Weight 230 lb.
- School Salt Lake Community College
- High School Rancho Cucamonga High School
- Debut September 2, 2014
Pitcher John Holdzkom made his major league debut in 2014; his brother is Lincoln Holdzkom.
John was picked by the Seattle Mariners in the 15th round of the 2005 amateur draft out of high school but did not sign. He was taken by the New York Mets in the fourth round of the 2006 amateur draft; the scout was Mike Baker. He was the Mets' 3rd pick, following Kevin Mulvey and Joe Smith. He made his pro debut with the GCL Mets, going 2-5 with 3 saves and a 7.71 ERA. In 23 1/3 innings, the giant hurler walked 23 and threw 16 wild pitches. Despite his limited workload, he tied Eric Beattie for the Gulf Coast League lead in wild pitches and tied for second in losses.
In 2007, Holdzkom was with the GCL Mets (0-1, 5 R in 6 IP) and Kingsport Mets (1-0, 3.60 in 5 IP). The next year, he was with Kingsport (3-1, 3.66, 44 K in 39 1/3 IP) and the Savannah Sand Gnats (2-3, 5.89, 45 BB in 47 1/3 IP). He tied for 7th in the South Atlantic League with 14 wild pitches; every one with more had at least 70 innings pitched. His 20 wild pitches overall for the year were second in the Mets chain, behind Maikel Cleto.
John did not pitch in 2009. In 2010, he barely pitched for Kingsport (7 R, 8 BB in 4 IP) and the GCL Mets (0 R in 1 IP, 2 BB, WP). After sitting out 2011, he signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds but pitched just 6 games for the 2012 Bakersfield Blaze (9 R, 13 BB, 5 WP in 8 2/3 IP).
Holdzkom began the 2014 season pitching in independent ball, first with the San Angelo Colts of the United League and after one game with the Amarillo Sox of the American Association, his dream of pitching in the majors seemingly unattainable. However, on June 23rd, after being spotted by veteran Indy Leagues scout Mal Fichman, he signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and things went quickly from there. He did very well with the AA Altoona Curve and AAA Indianapolis Indians and was called up to Pittsburgh when rosters expanded on September 1st. He made his major league debut the next day, when he used his palmball to strike out the side in an inning of relief in a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. That came with a twist however, as catcher Russell Martin, who had never caught the rare pitch before, dropped a third strike to lead-off hitter Peter Bourjos, allowing him to reach first base. However, Martin quickly caught Bourjos in an attempt to steal second, and Holdzkom fanned Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter to complete the inning. He continued to do well over his next outings, finishing his major league stint with a record of 1-0 and an ERA of 2.00, having allowed only 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 14 in 9 innings. He even got to pitch one inning in the Pirates' loss to the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card Game, giving up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning of work.
He was assigned back to the minor leagues to start the 2015 season, putting his Cinderella story on hold. He had the disadvantage of still having a minor league option, which was not the case of other pitchers competing to join the Pirates' bullpen.
Sources include 2012 Reds Media Guide
- Tom Singer: "Dreamcatcher: Holdzkom takes long road to bigs: Bucs reliever finds success after hitting all points on baseball map", mlb.com, December 27, 2014.