Brandon Mann has certainly paid his dues.
Originally selected in the 27th round of the 2002 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Mann has spent the last 17 years pitching in the minors, Japan, and independent ball before he was finally called up by the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
"It means everything,'' Mann said, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas News. "Lot of reflecting on the journey of where it's been. This is pretty awesome. I always told myself I was a big leaguer. To keep grinding for that opportunity, you have to believe that you are."
Mann didn't have to wait long to live out his dream, as he threw 1 2/3 shutout innings during the Rangers' 6-1 loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday, allowing a hit with no strikeouts or walks. At 33 years, 362 days, he's the second-oldest player in Rangers history to make their major-league debut, according to the club.
Mann has thrown 1,270 2/3 innings across all minor-league levels, going 59-91 with a 4.35 ERA and 1,052 strikeouts. He played two seasons in Japan from 2011-12, and pitched in Fargo, N.D., in 2015 with an independent team. He was suspended for 80 games in 2016 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, and agreed to a minor-league deal with the Rangers in January, posting a 1.04 ERA in 17 1/3 inning so far this season in Triple-A.
"There weren't a lot of teams calling,'' Mann said. "I believed in my heart I was definitely capable of pitching in the big leagues. It's crazy what happens."
Notable players from Mann's draft class include Prince Fielder, Nick Swisher, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Joey Votto, Brian McCann, and Jon Lester.
(Video courtesy: MLB.com)