The journey from minor leagues to the Major League is a long one from most.
Ask former LSU baseball players Austin Nola and Ryan Eades. Eades spent seven seasons and 165 games on five different teams before his debut, and it took Nola eight seasons and 773 games on six different teams.
Both had outstanding careers at LSU, Nola was a four-year starter at shortstop, helping LSU win the 2009 National Championship, and Eades had a 17-5 record over his career as a pitcher and posted a 2.79 ERA in his final season.
And despite being high drafts — Eades went in the second round of 2013 draft and Nola went in the fifth round of 2012 draft — both players spent the better part of the decade clawing their way to the MLB.
Eades debuted with the Minnesota Twins on June 8 and pitched two scoreless innings, giving up two hits, two walks and struck out three batters. He followed it up on June 12 with 1.2 scoreless innings and gave up two hits while striking out another two batters.
Two days later on June 14, the Twins sent Eades back down to the minor leagues. He'll stay there for a while, but it is expected Minnesota will eventually call Eades back up to the Majors throughout the season.
Nola got his chance on June 16 after the Seattle Mariners traded Edwin Encarnacion, the American League home run leader, to the New York Yankees. Encarnacion's trade left a hole at first base, and Nola was the guy to fill it.
After starting 219 games at shortstop for LSU, Nola found his trade playing pretty much every spot in the infield. Nola played four seasons with the New Orleans Zephyrs, now Baby Cakes, and filled in across the infield whether it was at first base, shortstop and even catcher. However, New Orleans' MLB affiliate, the Miami Marlins, decided to let Nola go after last season.
Nola signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in the offseason and hasn't disappointed. After hitting a .327 average and seven home runs with an on-base percentage of .415 this season in AAA with Tacoma Rainiers, he was finally called up and joined his younger brother, former LSU pitcher and MLB All-Star, Aaron Nola in the big leagues.
“I think I was happier last night for him getting called up than I was when I got called up, to be honest with you,” said Aaron to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I wanted to get emotional, man.”
The elder Nola started at first base in the Mariners his two games. His first at-bat was a hit, and in total, he is 2-for-6 at the plate so far.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Nola to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. “It’s been fun. I try to enjoy it every day. I don’t look at the future or the past. I’m here right now. And I learned so much through my time at each level. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I came up in the minor leagues as a shortstop, transitioned to catcher and now I’m playing first base today. You can’t plan that. You really can’t.”