Former Illini closer Joey Gerber named to Seattle Mariners’ 60-man roster

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Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Senior Joey Gerber throws a pitch during competition.

By Rich Eberwein, Staff Writer

Prior to the announcement of Garrett Acton signing with the Athletics, Joey Gerber, another former Illini closer, was named to the Seattle Mariners’ 60-man roster on Monday.

The Maple Grove, Minnesota, native ranks fourth on Illinois’s all-time saves list with 22 over three seasons. Gerber broke out for Illinois in 2018 with a 3.14 ERA in 25 appearances, which caught Seattle’s eye in the 2018 draft when they took him in the eighth round. Since then, Gerber climbed to the Mariner’s double-A team, and his career Minor League statistics have been as steady as his progress. Over 74.1 innings pitched in the minor leagues, Gerber struck out a whopping 112 men with a 2.42 ERA.

With the recent cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, Gerber is one of the few prospects who may face major league competition this year. All players were to report to their respective big-league ballparks by July 1, with interleague games and untelevised Spring Training games beginning then. The regular season is scheduled to commence on July 23. Gerber has kept himself sharp during the unexpected offseason and is ready to contribute.

“I was kind of told when I left to just stay a little bit in maintenance mode,” said Gerber about the March cancellation. “I guess when we first broke, it was ‘take a couple weeks off’ or ‘treat it like it’s December.’ Since maybe May, though, I’ve been in maintenance mode just making sure I’m ready enough to the point where I know I’m good to go whenever we ramp back up.”

Gerber says he is looking forward to having a consistent routine with the Mariners and the potential to test his abilities against seasoned big league hitting. Gerber will likely be named to the Mariners “taxi squad” and be on call in the case of injury of a strained bullpen. Primarily a slider-fastball guy, the 6’4” right-hander’s velocity is a few ticks higher than it was during his time at Illinois and he is eager to use it in games.

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“It’s kind of like college; I want one inning,” Gerber said. “When I got to college, I just wanted one inning to get a chance and then go from there.”

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