It was only for a short time, but Marquis Fleming came so close to his big league dreams. Last week, the former Cal State Stanislaus pitcher found himself in Triple-A baseball — just one step from the MLB.
He got promoted to the Durham Bulls of North Carolina, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. It was a noteworthy stay, as he didn’t allow an earned run in two appearances before returning to the Montgomery Biscuits of Alabama, the Rays’ Double-A affiliate in the Southern League.
“It’s good to know (the Rays) feel I’m a guy that can go up there and pitch,” the right-handed Fleming told The Montgomery Advertiser. “A lot of those guys have been in the big leagues before, and I got to see how they handle themselves.”
One thing he did notice about Triple-A life, as told to Stanislaus coach Kenny Leonesio, is that he didn’t have to do so many things for himself. For example, he didn’t have to carry his bags when he traveled.
Nonetheless, he will continue to impressive for the Biscuits.
After he was drafted by the Rays in the 24th round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Fleming has been excelling. He spent the 2009 season as a bullpen specialist for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of Single-A, posting a 2.86 ERA and five saves over 42 appearances.
After becoming an All-Star with the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Florida State League in 2010, he did the same with the Biscuits this season, earning three wins and a 2.56 ERA in nearly 30 appearances.
At the time of his promotion, Fleming was one of the top relievers in the Southern League. He was first in strikeouts-per-nine-innings with 13.58. He had struck out 85 batters in 56.1 innings.
Leonesio believes Fleming will only continue to improve, especially now that Fleming has experienced the life of a Triple-A ballplayer. The last Stanislaus player to make it to the MLB was Steve Andrade, a 2001 graduate and right-handed relief pitcher who made his debut with the Kansas City Royals in 2006.
Fleming will land his big league dreams in a couple years, Leonesio said.
“I think it’s really big for him. They could’ve called anybody but they close him because they believe he could do the job,” Leonesio said of the Rays’ decision to promote Fleming to the Durham Bulls.
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