Last night Andrew Werner became the first pitcher to throw a complete game shutout for the Tucson Padres. He did so in his second start with the team after being promoted from AA San Antonio. Far from an overnight success, Werner's story is one of perseverance and other things I don't really understand.
A standout in high school, Andrew Werner was nonetheless undrafted and unrecruited by anyone of note. Instead of taking what seems like the logical route of giving up, drinking heavily and resigning himself to a life of menial labor; Werner headed off to tiny Illinois Central College and continued pitching. He did well enough to catch the eyes of the staff at University of Indianapolis and transferred there after a couple of seasons. He was undrafted out of UIndy and received no attention from any Major League organizations as an undrafted free agent. Once again, instead of beating his head against a wall, thinking of how much he disappointed those who believed in him, and going back home in shame; Andrew still didn't quit.
After college, it was off to the independent Frontier League. He had a somewhat rocky first year with Evansville in 2009 but, Andrew being Andrew, laced 'em up again the next year and put together a solid sophomore season split between Evansville and Windy City. After the season he was signed as a free agent with the Padres and reported to Fort Wayne to begin the 2011 season. Werner posted a 3.44 ERA in 12 starts for the Tin Caps and finished the season in Lake Elsinore, where he improved to 3.03 over 13 starts. Another season brought another pair of promotions as Andrew put up a 3.23 in 18 starts for San Antonio before getting the bump up to Tucson.
Andrew Werner isn't likely to take the Majors by storm any time soon but with him it's hard to say. He has shown that some cliches exist for a reason and that hard work and believing in one's self really can pay off. Of course that lesson is lost on those of us who are already effed for life but maybe, just maybe, some kid can look to Werner for inspiration and avoid becoming another me.