Second Chance: 34-year old Huizinga makes first MiLB appearance since 2003

This past Monday was monumental for Brevard County Manatees right-handed pitcher Jon Huizinga. He shutout the Tampa Yankees over two relief innings to close out an 8-0 Brevard County win. Six outs in a blowout win might sound mundane, but for the 34-year old Huizinga, they were the first outs he had recorded in an affiliated baseball game since 2003.

 

Huizinga’s Story

Back in 2002, Huizinga finished a four-year career at Michigan State and wanted to continue his career at the professional level. The right-hander went undrafted, but took a shot in the independent Frontier League with the Kalamazoo Kings.

Huizinga - Kalamazoo

Huizinga deals for the Kalamazoo Kings in the independent Frontier League.

The shot paid off. After just four appearances with Kalamazoo in 2003, Huizinga was signed to a minor league contract by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Milwaukee sent the right-hander to the Class-A Beloit Snappers and he fared well. In his first affiliated appearance, Huizinga went 4-0 with a 4.32 ERA.

Huizinga made 23 relief appearances for the Class-A Beloit Snappers in 2003.

Huizinga made 23 relief appearances for the Class-A Beloit Snappers in 2003.

Huizinga’s numbers, however, were not enough to keep him in affiliated baseball. Instead, he went back to Kalamazoo in 2004 and pitched 21 innings before suffering a devastating arm injury.

Doctors told Huizinga he was finished. The 24-year old righty, however, did not think so. He went from doctor-to-doctor, until somebody told him he could make a comeback.

Determined to stay in baseball, Huizinga reinvented himself with a nutrition plan that has helped sustain the right-hander and yielded him eight more seasons of independent professional baseball after doctors told him he was finished.

Huizinga - St. Paul

Huizinga - Calgary

Huizinga - Rockford

Huizinga - Yuma

Finally, after all of that work,  Huizinga got another shot at the affiliated ranks.

Huizinga earned a tryout with the Brewers under the supervision of Mark Dewey, an assistant pitching coordinator for Milwaukee. That turned into a conversation with Brewers Director of Player Development Reid Nichols and another workout for the Brewers at the team’s Arizona League complex. Eventually, all of that led to this…

It took a couple of days after being signed and sent to Brevard County for Huizinga to appear in a game. But, when he did, the veteran shut the door. He allowed a single in both the eighth and ninth innings, but erased both runners with double play balls and recorded the final out of the Manatees’ victory with a ground ball to shortstop.

Huizinga’s Debut Box Score: http://atmilb.com/1BHd8gb

 

Huizinga Reflects After Manatees Debut

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