From Bridge City to MLB: Jake Lemoine talks long journey, local support and fancy hotels

Published 12:30 am Friday, April 8, 2022

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Let’s just say former Bridge City flamethrower pitcher Jake Lemoine is going to look good in green and gold.

The 28-year-old is getting the opportunity he has longed for as he has earned a shot to play for the Oakland Athletics in Major League Baseball.

Lemoine, the first Bridge City Cardinals student-athlete to ever make an MLB roster, was invited to join the Athletics on Sunday as manager Mark Kotsay informed him he had made the Opening Day team.

“My main goal was to make the Athletics’ Triple-A roster,” explained Lemoine. “They went through three cuts, and I made it through the first one and then the second one with the main idea to just still make the Triple-A roster. I made it through the third one and went through three more days of camp, and Kotsay and the pitching coach called me into the office and told me I made it.

“I have to say, it brought me to tears. I finally made it, after 11 years I finally made it. It is such a dream that came true. I didn’t care how long it took, even if it took me until I was 31 or 33, my goal was going to be to make the Big Leagues.”

Jake Lemoine

Lemoine has been going through a whirlwind after getting the call-up late Sunday. Lemoine and the Athletics are in Philadelphia for a three-game series to start the season this weekend.

“It’s certainly been busy, but it has been so much fun,” Lemoine said. “Getting to know my teammates has been awesome. I really appreciate the A’s for believing in me and giving me the opportunity. I sure hope I can produce for them and make them happy, too. You definitely fully appreciate it when you finally get here. The amenities so far are so much different than the minors. There is the private team plane and the hotel we’re in here in Philly. I’m definitely not used to staying in one of these.”

Lemoine tossed six scoreless innings this Spring for the A’s after spending his 2021 campaign at Triple-A Round Rock for the Rangers.

Professional history

Lemoine is the newest name for A’s fans, having spent his whole career so far in the Rangers system as a former 4th-round draft pick. Last summer he got impressive results in Triple-A.

Lemoine spent the 2021 season with the Round Rock Express of the Triple-A West, going 7-4 with a 2.86 earned run average and 43 strikeouts over 56 2/3 innings.

On Jan. 8 of this year, he signed a minor league contract with the Athletics.

Oakland signed him to a minor league deal in January, and this spring Lemoine showed a fastball with some zip while missing bats with his breaking ball.

Out of high school, Lemoine was drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 Major League Draft by the Texas Rangers but did not sign.

He opted to go play collegiate baseball for the University of Houston and shined for Cougars from 2013-15.

He also played for the 2014 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, going 2-2 with a 2.45 earned run average in 18 1/3 innings.

Lemoine was drafted in the fourth round, 108th overall, of the 2015 MLB Draft by Texas and signed for $528,000.

He did not appear in a minor league game in 2015 and 2016 after dealing with a right shoulder problem that led to rotator cuff surgery. He made his minor league debut in 2017 with the Hickory Crawdads of the Class A South Atlantic League, going 3-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 70 innings.

“When you play sports long enough, you know you’re going to have to battle some adversity like injuries and surgeries,” Lemoine said. “You just have to battle through them and persevere to chase your dreams.”

He spent the 2018 campaign with the Down East Wood Ducks of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League, going 3-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 56 innings of work.

He split the 2019 season between the Frisco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas League and the Nashville Sounds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, going a combined 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA over 54 2/3 innings.

Pandemic hits baseball

And then there was the 2020 season, which was canceled for Minor League Baseball season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That 2020 season was tough, because it was planned that I was going to get to stay in Triple-A,” Lemoine said. “I came home and worked at a lumber yard and realized I didn’t want to do something like that forever. I continued to work out at home and kept in shape. I was so ready to get back. I felt really confident after the season I had last year in Round Rock.”

Now, Lemoine turns his complete attention to being a top-notch reliever or whatever the Athletics ask of him.

“I knew I had a chance to compete for a spot, but in my mind, I was simply trying to make the Triple-A team,” Lemoine said. “Just super excited for the opportunity and I’m going to do my best every outing to prove why I should be here. I’m blessed to have so much family support and support from home. It’s been great to hear from so many of my friends and coaches back home.”