Cody Stashak’s dedication and desire have paid off with a promotion to the major leagues.
The 25-year-old Oakcrest High School graduate from Mays Landing was called up to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday night from their triple A-affiliate in Rochester, New York.
“His father (Brett Stashak) called me last night to tell me the news, and I started crying as if I was getting called up with him,” Keith Gorman, who coached Stashak at Cumberland County College, said Monday. “I’m just so happy for him. Minor league players get put through the ringer so much, and a lot of them never get a chance to play in the majors. I’m so glad he’s getting this opportunity. It’s surreal.”
Stashak, a right-handed relief pitcher, was scheduled to join the Twins in Minneapolis on Monday for the start of a three-game series against the New York Yankees. He could not be reached for comment Monday.
The Twins (60-38 entering Monday) are in first place in the American League Central Division.
“If it happens, it happens,” Stashak said in a phone interview Friday, two days before the promotion. “It would be awesome if I got called up.”
Stashak earned his promotion with a series of impressive performances for the Rochester Red Wings. He appeared in 12 games, going 5-0 with a sparkling 1.61 ERA, 31 strikeouts against only four walks in 221/3 innings and a 0.90 WHIP.
“I’ve been pitching wherever they needed me,” Stashak said Friday. “I opened a few games, closed a few, and had a few two-inning (outings). It doesn’t matter to me how I’m used as long as I can help my team.”
Stashak, a 2012 Oakcrest graduate, started this season with the Twins’ double-A affiliate in Pennsacola, Florida, where he was 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in 19 appearances with 40 strikeouts against five walks.
He was promoted to Rochester on June 9 and immediately impressed the coaching staff with his command and control.
“He showed us some great things and really put himself on the map,” Red Wings pitching coach Stu Cliburn said Friday. “His fastball is his go-to pitch, but he also has a good slider and a nice little changeup. But the best thing about Cody is his grit. He’s an oustanding competitor. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters, and he trusts his stuff.
“We’ve been using him in all kinds of roles so that he’ll be ready for when he gets to the big leagues. There’s been a lot of talk about it. I’m in constant contact with Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson, and he’s always asking about Cody.”
On Monday, after the promotion, Cliburn said, “We had an inkling that this might happen. We’re down here in Georgia playing the Braves’ affiliate, and we got a call from the Twins (on Sunday) telling us not to pitch Cody because something might be happening. We’re all extremely proud of him and wish him nothing but the best.”
Stashak wasn’t much of a pitcher in his earlier career.
He was primarily an outfielder for Oakcrest and split his time between the outfield and pitcher’s mound at Cumberland. He only became a full-time pitcher after accepting a scholarship to St. John’s University.
“I miss hitting,” Stashak said with a laugh. “It would be nice to hit again. Since I signed with the Twins (as a 13th-round draft pick in 2015), I don’t even get to take batting practice. But I’m glad I chose pitching.”
Stashak’s promotion meant that his wife, Taylor, had to make some drastic changes to her vacation plans.
According to Gorman, she had driven from Rochester to Mays Landing to visit with some family and friends Sunday when Cody called to tell her he was going to the Twins.
“She had just driven all the way from Rochester, and now she’s going have to turn around,” Gorman said. “But I’m sure she’s thrilled. We all are.”
Stashak becomes the fifth local player to make the majors in the last eight years, joining outfielders Mike Trout (Millville), Matt Szcur (Lower Cape May Regional) and Darren Ford (Vineland), and pitcher Brett Kennedy (Atlantic City).
Trout, a two-time American League MVP for the Los Angeles Angels, is currently enjoying another outstanding season.
Szczur played in 363 games over five seasons (2014-18) with the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres and is now with Arizona’s triple-A affiliate in Reno, Nevada. He received a World Series ring with the Cubs in 2016.
Ford appeared in 33 games for the San Francisco Giants (2010-11) and is now with the New Britain Bees of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He received a World Series ring with the Giants in 2010.
Kennedy has spent the entire season on the San Diego Padres’ injury list with a lat muscle injury. He started six games for the Padres in 2018.