The second-ever Australian pitcher is set to debut for the Detroit Tigers in the big leagues.
The Tigers have purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Warwick Saupold from Triple-A Toledo, the team announced. To make room for Saupold on the 40-man roster, the Tigers have sent down left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris to Triple-A Toledo.
The first Australian pitcher to toss at the major league level for the Tigers was Brad Thomas from 2010-2011. The Aussie will wear No. 53 for the Tigers.
Saupold took a much different route to the Major League Baseball (MLB) than most pitchers. He joined the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League (ABL) in 2010 and was dominant across the 2011 and 2012 seasons. As a matter of fact, he led the league in innings pitched with 70.0 innings in 2012, while setting an ABL record with a 1.41 ERA. During that season, Saupold struck out 53 hitters and allowed 43 hits, 22 walks, and just two home runs.
In 2012, the righty signed a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) contract with the Tigers and was immediately sent to work with Class-A Advanced Lakeland. Saupold pitched outstanding in the Florida State League (FSL) championship game to earn the win and take the series. He was sent up to Double-A Erie in 2014 and 2015 but got up to Triple-A Toledo midway through the 2015 season.
Saupold, in the middle of the transition from the ABL to the MiLB, pitched in the 2013 World Baseball Classic for Australia and the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifier in his home country for the Aussies this past winter.
He has owned a 3-1 record with a 2.37 ERA in eight games (four starts) for the Mud Hens this season. Saupold holds a highly impressive 0.890 WHIP and has not given up a run this year through 30.1 innings at the minor league level.
Even though he is with the Tigers organization, Saupold returns to the ABL in the offseason to pitch for the Heat to keep his stuff clean as a whistle.
Saupold's promotion to the majors might only be temporary, but if all goes well, it will put a positive impression on the organization. The Australian could become a big piece in the rotation or bullpen for years to come.