2,164 days. On Tuesday morning, that’s how long Cody Poteet had been grinding, patiently waiting and hoping since he had been drafted in the 4th round in 2015 to realize his dream and take a Major League mound. Then, on the 2,165th, Poteet’s dream was realized. The Marlins activated the 26-year-old from the taxi squad and tabbed him as their starter for that night’s game in Arizona.
Working with a three man rotation since Sixto Sanchez started the season on the IL, Elieser Hernandez was injured in his first start of the year , the Marlins have been looking for innings in a multitude of places. After going to the likes of Nick Neidert who made the Opening Day roster only to struggle in his first two starts, Dan Castano, Jordan Holloway and a multitude of bullpen arms, they went to the next man up in Poteet. After striking out 10 in his first AAA start of the year last week, the 6’1”, 190 pound righty impressed, giving the Marlins five innings of four hit two run ball while striking out six and not surrendering a walk. Aided by homers from Jesus Aguilar and his battery mate Sandy Leon, Poteet collected his first big league win.
“It means the world to me to make it up to to the big leagues with the Marlins who gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream in 2015,” Poteet said postgame. “I have nothing but a thankful heart. It’s just an exciting day for me and my family.”
Taking part in a career defining moment and experiencing the summation of his boyhood dream after a long grind through the minor leagues which included the canceled 2020 season, Poteet gave up a run on two hits in the 1st inning, Poteet was able to gain his composure, settle in and set down 12 of his next 13. The only other blemish on his line would be a solo homer given up to Andrew Young in his final inning of work. Poteet even showed a slight uptick in velocity from where we saw him in spring training and in his first AAA start where he was topping out at 95. In his first big league appearance, he touched as high as 97. He bottomed out at 76, Against a lineup in which seven of eight hitters were batting lefty, Poteet lived off his heater and elevated a lot to the his arm side, generating weak swings and contact. He was ahead with a first pitch strike to 12 of his 18 batters faced. Although he threw them intermittently, Poteet showed the rest of his 50-55 grade four pitch arsenal comprised of a curveball, slider and changeup for strikes as well.
Poteet said the outing came at an opportune time for him, a time in which he thinks he’s throwing his best.
“I think recently I’ve taken a few strides with all my pitches and I’m getting a little better. I’ve been waiting for this day to come for a long time and the lord provided it at a perfect time and I’m just extremely thankful to be here.”
Don Mattingly was impressed with Poteet’s stuff as well as his pace.
“His tempo was like he’s got it and ready to throw but it didn’t seem like he was in a hurry,” Mattingly said. [He] threw strikes, used his breaking stuff. He was good. It was much needed for us.”
Poteet has four above average pitches, a good feel for his craft and a ton of comfort in his routines and in his body, proven by the fact he’s been able to stay on the field for almost his entire career without issue. But according to Cody, there was an equally if not more important factor that allowed him get to the stage he was on after a long trek through the minor leagues: support from his family and trust in his faith.
“Just continually focusing on getting better and trust in the Lord that he would provide that opportunity if he wanted that to happen. Continuing to be faithful and pursuing to get better each and every day and being the best employee I could be no matter where I am.”
Poteet, a California native, had a network of about 20 people in attendance to watch him make his big league debut. Poteet considered it a blessing that he was able to get word out to all of them in time for them to get to Phoenix. He touted the never-ending support of his wife Madeline, without whom Wednesday night would not have been possible.
“My wife; she’s been with me every step in the minor leagues,” Poteet said. “She’s seen so many of my outings. She’s seen my when I’ve struggled, when I’ve done well. She’s my support system and I love her so much. This isn’t just for me but just as much for her.”
During spring training, Mattingly made it evident that the organization will no longer be handing out opportunities that go unanswered. Impressed by the way Poteet was able to take advantage of this chance, he stated another start could certainly be in the cards for Poteet.
“It’s something I’m sure we will talk about but I don’t think you could ask for more,” Mattingly said “You get opportunities; they only come so many. And when the door knocks, the saying is answer it.”
Though the San Diego native and UCLA grad will miss the Dodgers series, he would next line up to start in Philadelphia.