The Journey From Frisco to MLB

Justin Grimm pitching for Frisco. (Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Last night Justin Grimm started for the RoughRiders for the first time since his major league debut. He was promoted to the Texas Rangers from Frisco on June 13. He said he was excited to get the call, especially with his family in town.

“They (my family) did not believe me at first. There were just like are you kidding because I was joking with them the night before,” Grimm said. “They were like oh my gosh. He’s calling his agent. He’s serious.”

The news of his call-up came so quickly that not all of his family was able to make the game.

“My brother couldn’t make it because he was the best man in one of his friend’s weddings,” Grimm said. “We didn’t have time to round up my grandparents and aunts and uncles up to come but the debut was so last minute I told them not to worry about it because there will be other games.”

After RoughRiders’ manager Steve Buechele told Grimm he was being promoted, Grimm made the 36-mile drive to Arlington.

“I went to Arlington after cleaning out my locker here,” Grimm said. “I threw a bullpen as soon as I got there because I was supposed to pitch Saturday so I was going to have an extra two days in between starts.”

For two days Grimm sat in the Rangers’ dugout mentally preparing for his big night.

“I kind of pictured myself doing good things out there for those two days,” Grimm said. “I was telling myself that I could do it.”

On June 16, Grimm made his major league debut pitching against the Houston Astros. He said the reality of pitching in the big leagues sank in while he was warming up.

“I got goose bumps warming up because as I was walking out to stretch you could hear claps and fans saying things like ‘Let’s go Grimm’ and ‘You got this,’” Grimm said. “Just hearing them hollering your name while I was throwing gave me goose bumps.”

Despite the nerves on the inside, Grimm said the biggest challenge for him in his debut was keeping control of his emotions during the game.

“You know the biggest thing was emotionally keeping it in and not getting too over amped,” Grimm said. “That’s the thing with baseball. You have to stay even keeled. Things are never as good as they seem and they are never as bad as they seem.”

He credits catcher Mike Napoli for helping him stay composed on the mound.

“Napoli kept me in that game. If I made a bad pitch or something he would let me know when we got back to the dugout like ‘hey get that over just a little bit if they were to swing at it, something like that,’” Grimm said.

The Rangers outlasted the Astros that games giving Grimm his first career major league win. To top it off, his mom, dad, and sister were there to witness it.

After the game, Grimm went out to dinner with his family, his agent, Robbie Ross and his wife before heading home for the night. He said the reality of that night didn’t hit him until he got home.

“I got in the hotel room after the game against Houston like wow I just got a win in the big leagues. It was unbelievable,” Grimm said. “People ask me how it was and if it’s everything I thought it would be and I have the same answer. It’s more. It’s a dream come true.”

During Grimm’s debut, Frisco players were rooting for him from Dr Pepper Ballpark.

“They told me that they were sitting here in the clubhouse because we had an early game or something,” Grimm said. “They were watching it like through the third inning like yeah, let’s go, that’s five in a row because I think I had struck out like five in a row or something and they said they were all getting pretty pumped so that was pretty cool.”

Grimm started last night against the Arkansas Travelers and is expected to join Triple-A Round Rock at the end of the week. When asked how it felt making his last start in Frisco, Grimm said it was awesome.

“I just went out there to work on some new pitches that I had learned,” Grimm said. “One from Jeff that I had actually started throwing at the big league level that I saw was really successful with some of those guys and I started throwing a slider a little bit. That’s just a work-in-progress. It’s not really good right now but it’s coming along good and I think it’s going to be a good pitch for the future. Looking to go up to Triple-A and just turn it around, get some hitters out.”

Through continued hard work and practice, Grimm hopes to make it back up to the big league level soon.

“I would like to get there realistically in September when they expand rosters,” Grimm said. “I want to get up there for the playoffs, maybe come out of the bullpen, whatever they need me to do.”

Grimm is tentatively scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday.

Story by Jarah Wright

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