From Newman To The Bronx

A reliever who pitched in the Northern League this season made his major league debut Thursday afternoon.

That reliever is Justin James of the Oakland A’s. And that debut occurred at Yankee Stadium against the defending World Series champs.

Justin James

James pitched for the Kansas City T-Bones all of last season and in 10 games this season before signing a minor league deal with the A’s.

The 28-year-old right-hander pitched against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo as recently as June 11, when he threw a perfect ninth inning to get the save.

He struggled in 2009 with the T-Bones, posting a 5.73 ERA. But this season, he figured things out, allowing just two runs in 10 appearances with KC, then posting a 1.83 ERA in 28 games between Double-A and Triple-A in the A’s system.

James struck out Robinson Cano to open the inning, but labored through the rest of the eighth inning. He allowed three hits and a run, ending the inning by striking out Derek Jeter with the bases loaded.

Quite a ride for James in 2010.

Fargo is mentioned briefly in this story. And in this one, former RedHawks and Minnesota Twins pitcher and current A’s scout Jeff Bittiger is credited with noticing James’ improvement this season.