(Posted Dec. 24, 2017)
By Sandi Latimer. Staff Writer
Caleb Ferguson’s father and older brother put out fires, and Caleb can, too, if called upon.
However, Caleb’s assignment differs from what the other Ferguson men do. They are firefighters in the literal sense of the word, whereas Caleb, a 2014 graduate of West Jefferson High School, is a baseball pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. When he enters a game as a relief pitcher and gets his predecessor out of trouble, he, too, could be considered someone who puts out fires.
Caleb, 21, has improved in his three years with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Dodgers farm team and a Class A team in the California League. This past season, he posted a 9-4 record in 25 games with a 2.87 ERA (earned run average).
In each of the two previous seasons, Caleb appeared in 14 games. In 2015, he had an 0-3 record with an 8.59 ERA. The following year he was 3-4 with a 2.31 ERA.
In high school, Caleb went through Tommy John surgery for his left elbow, his throwing arm.
“The Dodgers took a chance on me,” he said in a recent telephone interview.
While many of his classmates were enjoying their last summer before college, Caleb was grabbing his pitcher’s mitt and heading west to California.
Baseball was his sport of choice when he realized he wasn’t going anywhere in football. And what he has found in baseball is what he calls a different life.
“You have little night life,” he said. “You get home around midnight or 1 a.m., get a couple hours sleep and get up and do it again tomorrow. You have little time off.”
His season begins in February when he reports to Dodgers training camp with pitchers and catchers, a week and a half before everyone else.
The majors have a grueling schedule of 162 games, and if the teams do well, the season extends to division and league championships going into the World Series. Although the Dodgers made it that far this year, losing in seven games to the Houston Astros, Caleb had to watch the series like the rest of America.
In the minors, Caleb’s season is 144 games long, running through mid-September.
This coming year, Caleb moves on to AA ball, still in the minors. That level is equivalent to the Dayton Dragons. The Columbus Clippers are a AAA club, the level at which the parent club looks for new talent.
Ferguson says he’d like to get a college education, but right now his schedule is so tight that he can’t fit it in. In the off season, he’s spending time at home with family.