The Oakland A's announced on Friday that left-hander Bobby Cramer has been added to the team's 40-man roster, with infielder Adam Rosales being moved to the 60-day disabled list. Cramer, who had been in the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats' rotation, is likely to start for the A's next week in the place of right-hander Vince Mazzaro, who was optioned to Sacramento in a surprise move earlier this week.
Cramer's path to the big leagues has been far from ordinary. While pitching for Long Beach State in 2002, Cramer injured his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. He would sign with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that season and pitched for the Devil Rays' A-ball teams in 2003 and 2004. Despite posting ERAs in the threes at three different A-ball levels, Cramer was released by Tampa during spring training 2005.
Following his release, Cramer was out of baseball, taking a job with Shell Oil and later as a substitute high school teacher, teaching math. Craig Weissman, the scout who signed Cramer out of college, had joined the A's scouting staff and kept trying to convince Cramer to return to baseball and pitch for the A's. Weissman finally succeeded during the 2007.
Cramer joined the High-A Stockton Ports midway through that season and he quickly became one of the Ports' best pitchers. In 45 innings, he posted a 3.80 ERA and had a more than 4:1 K:BB ratio. He was promoted to Double-A Midland, where he performed even better, posting a 1.89 ERA in 52.1 innings. He made a start for the River Cats that post-season.
Cramer seemed poised to make the jump to Triple-A full-time in 2008, but a sore left shoulder limited him in winter ball and eventually led to his release by the A's. Cramer spent the entire 2008 season pitching in the Golden Baseball League, an independent league, where he had a 3.88 ERA and 95 strike-outs in 92.2 innings for his hometown Orange County Flyers. He would follow-up that showing with a standout season in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
Now healthy, Cramer was re-signed by the A's for the 2009 season. He began the year with Sacramento, but struggled for the first time in his career in the A's organization. In six outings, he had a 6.43 ERA and eight walks in 14 innings. Cramer was sent all the way back to Stockton temporarily, where he allowed only a run in 5.2 innings. Eventually, he settled in on the Rockhounds' roster. In 43 innings, he had a 3.35 ERA, but he saw his season once again cut short by injury.
Before the start of the 2010 season, Cramer's contract was loaned out by the A's to a team in the Mexican Summer League, the Quintana Roo Tigres in Cancun. Cramer led the Mexican League in wins (13), WHIP (1.12), complete games (5) and shut-outs (3). He was also the league's strike-out king and he had a 123:27 K:BB and a 2.95 ERA in 128 innings. At the conclusion of the Mexican League season, the A's re-acquired Cramer and added him to the Sacramento rotation.
The Southern California native picked up just where he left off in Mexico upon joining the River Cats. In seven starts, Cramer had a 1.94 ERA and 35 strike-outs against 11 walks over 41.2 innings. Six of those 11 walks came in one start, as he walked no more than one batter in any of the six other starts. He allowed no more than two runs in any start for Sacramento, as well.
Cramer will turn 32 this October, making him the oldest pitcher in the A's starting rotation despite having the least major league experience. He will also boast the most unique path to the big leagues.
Click here to view our entire coverage of Cramer's time in the A's organization.