It was only nine appearances, and they were far away from the tens of thousands of Houston Astros fans that would be watching at Minute Maid Park, or for that matter, the number that would typically attend a Corpus Christi Hooks game.
Where those nine appearances occurred made them bigger than your routine nine minor-league relief appearances. They came in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), a league for serious prospects that sees 60 percent of its players reach Major League Baseball.
The results were outstanding: 13.2 innings pitched, five hits, no runs, 14 strikeouts and only four walks. Those were Joe Record’s statistics in the league that has produced 321 All-Stars, 19 MVPs and six Cy Young Award winners.
Joe Record may be on the older side of prospects, but he is setting himself up for success in the Astros system for 2022.
A 28th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins out of the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2017, Record required Tommy John surgery in August of 2017.
His professional career began in 2019 in A-Ball at Cedar Rapids and A Advanced in Fort Myers before coming to the Astros through the Rule 5 Minor League Draft in December of 2020.
A solid season at Double-A Corpus Christi in 2021, going 5-2 with a 3.36 ERA in 19 appearances, including seven starts, earned Record the opportunity with Glendale in the AFL.
Missing 20 months due to the surgery meant he was a couple years older than the average Arizona Fall League player and a seemingly surprise success story for such a competitive league.
As a reliever, Record threw a fastball, slider and occasional curve, but when he was tasked with starting he added a change up to his repertoire.
For 2022, Record imagines moving back to the bullpen full time and in that shorter role may alter his approach and pitch selection and whether he starts 2022 in Corpus Christi or Sugar Land is still to be determined.
The odds of a 28th round draft pick making it to the majors is slim, as are the odds of a minor league Rule 5 Draft pick.
On the other hand, more than half of the players that see time in the AFL become major leaguers and Record baffled those hitters last fall.
The results of last fall notwithstanding, Record likely has a ways to go to reach MLB, be it with the Astros or another organization. After 109 innings in college, he’s only thrown 116.2 as a professional.
That said, Record’s faced long odds before and he’s still standing, thriving and showing the Astros brass that he can get good hitters out and he’s ready for the next step in achieving his dream.
The Astros signed right-handers Oswald Mori and Carlos Montes to a minor-league contracts. Edwin Diaz, who was signed to a minor-league deal as well, received an invite to spring training.
"“It’s a very big feeling. It’s really special to be able to be part of this organization that has always been my favorite in the Major Leagues, and being able to sign a contract with it is a dream come true,” Mori said. “My goals would be to continue developing as a baseball player, improve each of my pitches and go to the Dominican Republic and the United States to show what I am made of, because I feel like I was born for this!”"