As Asher Wojciechowski pitched to Citadel players during practice in February, a Bulldogs assistant coach gave a pep talk to discouraged hitters.
"Don't worry," he said. "This guy will be in the major leagues this year."
Those words proved prophetic Saturday, when the former Citadel star earned his first MLB victory for the Cincinnati Reds.
Called up early Saturday morning, Wojciechowski pitched 3⅔ innings of scoreless relief as the Reds rallied for a 12-8 win over Colorado. Wojciechowski retired the first 11 batters he faced, allowing one hit and no walks and striking out three.
"Asher was sensational," Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters after the game. "He came in attacking the strike zone. Again, it comes back to throwing it over the plate and opposing hitters let you know what you need to learn to pitch successfully at this level. And he did that. It was a really nice recipe for success. It's 32/3 essential innings.
"He couldn't have come up bigger, and to come out and throw another scoreless inning and do it again and then take himself into the ninth was beyond impressive in my opinion."
Even more impressive: Wojciechowski, a first-round draft pick of the Blue Jays from The Citadel in 2010, was out of baseball little more than a month ago.
He was released by the Diamondbacks after spring training on March 28, returning to The Citadel to work out and await his next option. The Reds signed him on April 21 and assigned him to Class AAA Louisville.
Wojciechowski, who had a 1.40 ERA in five starts at Louisville, was called up to fortify the Reds' bullpen early Saturday morning, receiving the call at 1:30 a.m.
“To be home a month ago without a job, then to have this happen today is pretty remarkable,” Wojciechowski, 28, said after the game. “I’m on cloud nine right now. It feels so good.”
Wojciechowski threw 42 pitches with 29 strikes. According to MLB.com, his fastball averaged 92.8 mph and topped out at 93.6 mph, and he got swings on 14 out of 21 on his four-seamer.
Wojciechowski first pitched in MLB in 2015 for the Astros, making five appearances and three starts with an 0-1 record and 7.16 ERA. His MLB record is now 1-1 with a 5.85 ERA.
Also Saturday, former Citadel pitcher Mike Clevinger of the Cleveland Indians earned his second win of the season. He pitched seven innings of shutout ball in a 3-0 win over the Astros, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Clevinger, who pitched for The Citadel in 2010, is 2-1 this season and pitched in the World Series for the Indians last season.