Former Twins Pitcher, Caleb Thielbar, Re-Signs With SaintsST. PAUL, MN March 28, 2016
His photo is up on the Wall of Fame inside the St. Paul Saints clubhouse at CHS Field. His time with the club in 2011 resurrected his career and helped him eventually get to the Major Leagues with the Minnesota Twins. Five years later, left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar, will return to the Saints for the 2016 season.
The 29-year-old Thielbar spent most of the last three seasons in the Major Leagues pitching for the Twins after an amazing ascent through their organization. Last season Thielbar began the season at Triple-A Rochester before being called up to the Twins just a couple of weeks into the season and pitching in six games with no record and a 5.40 ERA. At the end of April he was re-assigned to Rochester and pitched in 29 games out of the bullpen and was 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 32.0 innings pitched. He walked 18 and struck out 19 while opponents hit .252 against him. On August 8 the San Diego Padres claimed Thielbar off of waivers and he pitched nine games at Triple-A El Paso where he went 0-0 with a 0.73 ERA in nine games out of the bullpen.
In 2013 Thielbar received the call-up to the Twins in late May and never looked back, spending the rest of the season in the Majors. He went his first 17 Major League appearances, a span of 19.2 innings, without allowing a run. He had two other strings of at least seven appearances without allowing an earned run and finished the season 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA in 49 games. In 46.0 innings pitched he walked just 14 while striking out 39 and opponents hit a miniscule .154 against him.
That season propelled him to a full season in the Major Leagues in 2014 and he had another incredible season. From April 6-May 13, a span of 12 relief appearances, he didn’t allow a run and allowed just one earned run from May 28-July 6. Thielbar went 2-1 with a 3.40 ERA and one save in 54 relief appearances. In 47.2 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 35 while opponents hit .280 against him.
Thielbar’s rise to the Major Leagues began after he was released by the Milwaukee Brewers organization and signed with the Saints in 2011. While with the Saints he set the franchise record for most consecutive scoreless innings, 29.2, from June 29-August 9 allowing just 15 hits in that span while striking out 37. Overall that season he went 3-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 43 relief appearances. In 49.2 innings pitched he walked just 15 and struck out 62 while opponents hit a miniscule .224 against him. The Twins took notice and purchased Thielbar’s contract on August 18. After not allowing a run in three games with the Fort Myers Miracle to finish off the 2011 season, Thielbar impressed at every minor league level in 2012.
“Caleb is what this league is all about,” said Saints Manager George Tsamis. “He signed with us back in 2011 and did a great job for us. The Twins purchased him and he climbed his way up the minor leagues and was really good at every level. He made it to the Big Leagues and was successful there too.”
Between High-A Fort Myers, Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester in 2012 Thielbar was an impressive 6-2 with a 2.43 ERA and six saves in 48 games (one start). In 77.2 innings pitched he walked 21 and struck out 74 while opponents hit .221 against him.
Thielbar’s career began in 2009 when he was an 18th round selection in the First Year Player Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers out of South Dakota State University. He spent two seasons in the Brewers system reaching Single-A Wisconsin in the Midwest League in 2010.
The Saints have signed nine players this off-season, seven position players and two pitchers.
The 2016 season begins on Thursday, May 19 at CHS Field with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.