Caleb John Thielbar
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 195 lb.
- School South Dakota State University
- High School Randolph (MN) High School
- Debut May 20, 2013
Caleb Thielbar made the majors in 2013.
Thielbar was All-State in basketball in high school (23 points per game for his career) and had a 9-0, 0.69 record as a senior pitcher to win All-Conference honors in baseball. As a college freshman, he was 3-4 with a 6.26 ERA. The next year, he improved to 7-3, 4.15. He faded to 5-4, 5.94 as a junior and had a 5-8, 5.44 record his senior year. He set school records for starts (44) and innings (274), was second in strikeouts (196) and fourth in wins (20). The Milwaukee Brewers took him in the 18th round of the 2009 amateur draft. The scout was Harvey Kuenn Jr.
Brewers and Saints
Caleb began the summer of 2009 with the AZL Brewers and was excellent (6-1, 1.59, 46 K, 7 BB in 45 1/3 IP) to earn a promotion to the Helena Brewers (0 R in 1 2/3 IP). He tied Pil-joon Jang for the Arizona League win lead and was first in ERA (.45 ahead of runner-up Cameron Lamb). Despite his success, Roberto Feliciano was named the AZL All-Star lefty reliever. In 2010, Thielbar was less successful with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (0-2, 3 Sv, 5.60 in 3 G) and Helena Brewers (3.68 ERA in 9 G). Milwaukee released him that winter. Thielbar signed with the independent St. Paul Saints and was a very good middle reliever in 2011 (4-3, 2.21 in 46 G, 1.09 WHIP, 67 K in 57 IP). That drew the interest of the neighboring Minnesota Twins, who signed him.
The Minnesota native pitched three games for the Fort Myers Miracle in the remainder of 2011 (1-0, 1 H, 5 BB, 5 K in 7 1/3 IP). He moved up the chain steadily in 2012, appearing for the Miracle (1-1, Sv, 4 H, 16 K, 1 UER in 12 1/3 IP), the New Britain Rock Cats (2-0, 4 Sv, 1.80 in 16 G) and the Rochester Red Wings (3-1, Sv, 3.57 in 25 G). He tied Bruce Pugh for the lead in games pitched by a Twins farmhand (48). He struggled in winter ball, with a 1-0, 11.08 record in 11 games for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League.
Caleb opened 2013 with Rochester and was 1-1 with a save and a 3.76 ERA after 17 games, fanning 34 in 26 1/3 innings. He was called up to the majors when Pedro Hernandez was demoted, becoming the first South Dakota State player to appear in the majors and the first player named Caleb as well (at the time, it was thought that Caleb Johnson had played in the National Association in 1871, but later research has demonstrated that this player was actually named "William Johnson"). He edged out Caleb Gindl for the title of first Caleb by under a month. In his big league debut, he entered in a double switch, replacing Ryan Pressly on the hill and Pedro Florimon in the lineup, with a 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the 7th against the Atlanta Braves. Andrelton Simmons greeted him with a single but he retired Jason Heyward and Justin Upton then fanned Freddie Freeman on three pitches. In the 8th, he went 1-2-3, striking out Gerald Laird and Juan Francisco, with a Dan Uggla pop-up in between. Ryan Doumit pinch-hit for him in the 9th.
Thielbar logged his first and only wire-to-wire campaign in the Majors in 2014, preforming as a reliable and effective member of the Twins staff. His 3.40 ERA was the second-best mark on the staff for hurlers with at least 30 innings pitched. He was also the youngest of Minnesota's six hurlers to top 50 games pitched that season. This strong effort gave him a respectable 12th-best bWAR total on the team.
Thielbar only pitched in six games for Minnesota in 2015, though he excelled for Rochester, posting a 2.81 ERA in 29 outings. Ultimately though, the Twins parted ways with him on July 31st, clearing his roster spot for the newly acquired Kevin Jepsen. Nine days later, Caleb was claimed by the San Diego Padres, though he appeared in a Major League contest with them before being outrighted and becoming a Free Agent in the offseason.
Return to St. Paul
Thielbar re-signed with the Saints prior to the 2016 season, and would spend the next two years with the club. (excluding a short stint between the two seasons with the Miami Marlins, with whom he'd allow five runs in eight hits in 1.2 Spring Training innings) He once again preformed well with the club, though he was limited to just 17 contests in the latter campaign. Between the two years, Caleb posted a 2.29 ERA.
Return to Affiliated Ball
Thielbar returned again to the affiliated ranks in 2018 after signing a Minor League deal with the Detroit Tigers on July 24th. Caleb ultimately ended up bouncing up and down between the AA Erie SeaWolves and the AAA Toledo Mud Hens several times throughout the season, and was effective at both levels. Thielbar ultimately ended up making 27 of his 39 appearances on the year at Erie, where he would post a 1.42 ERA while posting a strikeout rate of 9.5 per nine innings. In total between the two levels his ERA was 2.05 while his K/9 rate was 8.1. Caleb remained in the Tigers organization for most of the 2019 season, posting a 3.30 ERA while pushing his K/9 to 10.8 in 50 games with Toledo. He was then dealt to the Atlanta Braves August 31st of that year, appearing in one game for the AAA Gwinnett Stripers before the end of the season.
Thielbar was one of the players named to the United States' roster for the 2019 WBSC Premier12 Tournament on October 10th, 2019. He was one of a few veterans on a prospect-laden team; Clayton Richard and Brandon Dickson were the only older hurlers.