HARWICH – Eric Reyzelman could feel the vibration of his phone next to his head as he lay in his hotel bed in Ontario, California.
It was June 26, a day before Reyzelman’s birthday, and he woke up at 6 a.m. to the buzz. It was a text by Harwich director Steve Englert. The coach had an opening on his roster, and he wanted Reyzelman to pursue it.
So the pitcher packed his things and began a 45-minute drive to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California. On the way, he called his parents to tell them the good news and they put him on a flight to Chicago where he spent the night. And on June 27, his birthday, Reyzelman took an early morning flight to Boston, where he rented a car and joined the Mariners later that day.
âI just wanted to get it all done as quickly as possible and get here without wasting any time before he could find another pitcher to take that place,â Reyzelman said on Sunday. âAnd, man, was this an amazing opportunity; (I) will always be grateful for it, because it is something that I will remember the rest of my life.
Since joining the Mariners, Reyzelman has been one of the best pitchers in the team and in the league. In five starts, he’s ninth in the league in ERA (2.66) and tied for second in strikeouts (36). He continued what was a dominant summer Sunday in Harwich’s (19-11-4) 11-7 win over Brewster (21-10-3) at Whitehouse Field.
In five innings, he netted seven strikeouts while walking one and allowing two earned runs, which was enough to give him the victory.
âI think he opened a lot of eyes with the scouts,â Englert said. “He just walks in, he fills it, he attacks and gets into the games.”
While Reyzelman has found success on the mound, and even a new home for the next college season, this summer his trip to Harwich has been a climb that can be dated to his sophomore year of high school at De La Salle High in Concord. , California.
Although he was on the school’s freshman baseball team, Reyzelman was left out of the team during both his sophomore and freshman years during the trials.
âYou can attribute it to a lot of things, but I attribute it to not understanding how to have enough work ethic to be able to play at such a high level of baseball,â Reyzelman said. âThe maturity level wasn’t there yet, and (it was) a few tough years, mentally. Parents wanted me to quit gambling. Family told me it was time to hang up.
But Reyzelman came out again in his final year and finally made it. He joined a team that finished second in the country for the third time in a row by MaxPreps.
Reyzelman finished the year with an 8-0 record and a 0.55 ERA and found himself in a rotation that included eventual MLB third-round pick Kyle Harrison.
From there, Reyzelman would go on to pitch at the University of San Francisco. As a freshman, he made five appearances and three starts for the Donations, but his season ended in March 2020 with Tommy John surgery before the pandemic, curtailing the USF season.
Despite the setback, the experience of surgery and rehabilitation was eye-opening for Reyzelman.
â(It) takes a mental toll, takes your maturity to a different level,â he said. âJust being able to sit down for a year and experience the game from a different perspective. I really think if all the dominoes hadn’t fallen like they did, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be here.
The next domino to fall in love with Reyzelman was the decision to enter the transfer portal after his second season at USF, where he posted a 3-3 record in 10 starts with 39 strikeouts and an ERA. of 6.17.
After the season Reyzelman initially had a contract in Cape Town with Wareham, but after his failure he went south to Montclair, Calif., For a month to work with Dave Coggin, a former MLB pitcher and founder of PFA Baseball. .
âI think this could have been the most influential month of my life,â Reyzelman said. âSimply understanding how to take matters into your own hands. ”
The pitcher spent this month alone in his Ontario hotel room, away from family and friends and “just put his head” and worked, he said. He spent three hours a day, five days a week training before heading to the Coggin Launch Center to work on arm paths and the ability to comfortably throw strikes.
âI entered this month 87, 89 (mph) with the fastball, unable to throw any strikes and with a lot of pain in my arm, shoulder,â Reyzelman said. “This month has been amazing in terms of having the right advice, the right people around me and being lucky enough to have that to take my game to the next level.”
After his month at Montclair, Reyzelman received this fateful text from Englert.
While Englert’s text was a moment he waited for, Reyzelman received more good news 10 days later, as LSU extended an official offer to him the day after his first Cape League start on July 5. He played 2.2 innings against Wareham and struck out six strikes. drummers.
The opportunity in Baton Rouge was one that happened suddenly, Reyzelman said, but it felt right.
And that wouldn’t have happened without his time in Cape Town, either.
âIf I didn’t have the opportunity to be here, none of this would happen,â Reyzelman said. “So I put it all down to the people around me and just the people who were, I guess, optimistic enough to take a chance on someone who really didn’t have much.”
For Harwich: The Orleans Firebirds, 7 p.m., August 2 at Eldredge Park in OrlÃ©ans.
For Brewster: Hyannis Harbor Hawks, 4 p.m., August 2 at Stony Brook Field in Brewster.
Adam Cole can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @colereporter.