CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – While just beginning what was viewed by most as sure to be a burgeoning professional baseball career, Georgia right-hander Cameron Rock Bedrosian suddenly found himself between a rock and a hard place.
Bedrosian, a 2009 PG/Aflac All-American who the Los Angeles Angels selected with the 29th pick of the first round in 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, had been shut down by the Angels in early August, 2010, with a sore elbow. He then underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in late April, 2011.
And now he’s made his return, pitching for the low Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels in a Midwest League game May 1, 2012. His repaired right arm showed no lingering effects of the surgery, as he worked 4 1/3 hitless innings with three strikeouts and two walks. His fastball, which had been gunned as high as 95 mph at Perfect Game events in 2009, topped out at 92 on this night. It was a noteworthy progression.
“I felt really good,” Bedrosian told Perfect Game a day after his outing. “It’s good to be back playing ball again; it’s been a long time, so it’s just good to be back out there. I feel good being here around a lot of guys I’ve already known.”
Bedrosian, now 20 years old, was not only surrounded by Cedar Rapids teammates he had known since his Perfect Game days three years earlier, but also pitched in front of a couple of his most loyal life-long fans. Cam Bedrosian is the son of 1987 National League Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian, and Steve and his wife Tammy (Cam’s mom) had made the 15-hour drive from their home in Senoia, Ga., to here to watch Cam’s debut at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“He’s put in the work and it showed last night; it’s always good to get off on a positive note and I think confidence breeds confidence,” Steve said, also a day after Cam’s outing. “In his case these games might not always be equal to last night and he might hit a snag – pitchers get beat up now and then – but now he’s in a spot where he’s got to learn hitters, he’s got to learn to command that fastball again and to put it where you want to put it. It’s going to be a learning experience for the next few years.”
Cam Bedrosian signed a reported $1.116 million deal with the Angels in the summer of 2010 and was sent to the Arizona Rookie League. He pitched 12 innings over five appearances and recorded a 4.50 ERA with 10 strikeouts before being shut down that August. He had pitched in only a couple of rehab starts before his “official” debut here May 1.
When it was announced that Bedrosian would undergo the Tommy John procedure, Angels’ director of player development Abe Flores told the Los Angeles Times:
“We'd love to have him back so we can continue his development, but at his age, it's a minor setback. If he was 28, it would be more dire. It's not like there's no one his age who hasn't had it before. We'd rather address it now than later.”
Following the surgery, all Bedrosian could do was wait as patiently as possible and put in the necessary work as he anticipated a return to action.
“It’s a tough road once you come back from it but I knew with perseverance and a lot of hard work that I could get through it,” Bedrosian said. “Luckily for me, (Kernels left-hander) Carmine Giardina had the same thing so we were both together and we got through it and we’re both here now.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of the remainder of the season. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to start playing ball and getting on the road and playing some different teams.”
Cam Bedrosian was given his middle name of Rock by his parents as an off-shoot of a nickname his father had once acquired. During his 14 Major League seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Minnesota Twins, Steve Bedrosian had mostly been known as “Bedrock.”
Steve Bedrosian won the 1987 NL Cy Young Award with the Phillies after recording a league-high 40 saves and a 5-3 record with a 2.83 ERA in 89 innings over 65 appearances. He also appeared in five postseason series including two World Series – 1989 with the Giants and 1991 with the world champion Twins. He pitched six innings in five World Series appearances, and gave up two runs (3.00 ERA) on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Cam, the youngest of Steve’s and Tammy’s four sons, was born on Oct. 2, 1991, a little over two weeks before the start of the 1991 World Series. Steve retired in August of 1995 and Cam admits he doesn’t remember much about his dad’s playing days, relying only on old videos his family still has.
That doesn’t mean Steve didn’t have a profound influence on Cam’s baseball career. Steve helped coach all four of his sons – Kyle, Cody, Carson and Cam – at East Coweta (Ga.) High School during a 14-year tenure after he left the big leagues. He also made sure Cam got to visit a lot of big-league parks while he was growing up.
“Whenever we’d go back for games he’d go in the locker room and he still knew some of the older guys, so we’d walk around and talk with them,” Cam said. “I wouldn’t trade (those experiences) for anything in the world; that was one of the funnest things I ever got to do; go back and go to those locker rooms and see how (the big league players) work and how they do things.”
Steve was also there for Cam’s extensive Perfect Game experiences, which began at the 2007 16u PG BCS Finals in Fort Myers, Fla., and concluded at the 2009 Alfac All-American Baseball Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego. In all, Cam played in seven WWBA and BCS Finals tournaments with the Peachtree City (Ga.)-based Homeplate Chili Dogs organization.
“(Perfect Game is) a great outfit and Cam was one of the pioneer players on that Peachtree City Chili Dogs team. We went down to Fort Myers many times to play in those tournaments,” Steve recalled. “I know Perfect Game has put out a lot of good ballplayers and Cam just hopes to carry on that tradition and maybe get to the big leagues someday.”
“It’s a lot of fun when you get to go with your buddies and travel around the country and play in those tournaments; I really enjoyed it,” Cam said of his days with the Chili Dogs. “I think that’s what helped me become a good ballplayer, playing in those tournaments and me getting better.”
Cam’s fondest memories are conjured up from his recollections of the All-American Classic. Twelve of the 40 roster spots at the 2010 Classic were filled with prospects that were selected in the first round of 2010 amateur draft, including Bedrosian.
Some of the others included No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper, No. 2 Jameson Taillon, No. 9 Karsten Whitson and No. 14 Dylan Covey. The East roster included No. 18 overall pick Kaleb Cowart and No. 30 Chevy Clarke, two other Georgia schoolboys like Bedrosian who are now teammates of his with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
“That’s where I first kind of got to know Kaleb Cowart and Chevy and all those guys,” Bedrosian said. “That was a lot of fun getting to know all those guys and now when I play sometimes I see them, so it’s a lot fun. It was an opportunity to meet some of the best players in the country, and it’s a lot of fun running into them again as I get older.”
Steve and Tammy Bedrosian’s three other sons all played baseball, just not at the professional level. Kyle played for three years at Mercer University and is now an instructor at the Homeplate facility in Peachtree. Cody works for the NBC broadcasting network in Atlanta and Carson is enrolled in a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine program. A daughter, Caitlin, is a 17-year-old junior softball player at East Coweta.
Steve and Tammy plan to spend the summer watching Cam play as much as time and travel allows, since it’s likely Cam will remain in the distant Midwest League throughout the rest of this season. But his career is something the proud parents definitely want to keep an eye on.
“Cam has worked real hard,” Steve said. “He had a bumpy start to his career undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he’s good at dealing with what cards are dealt. We’ve been to a lot of places in this country playing baseball but never up this way to Iowa, and it’s beautiful country. Hopefully we’ll be back up here a couple more times this summer.”
Cam only wants to put the TJ surgery behind him and get on with his career, whether it’s in Cedar Rapids or some other outpost far from his Georgia home.
“I’m just ready now to play ball. That’s all I’m here for is to play ball and get better, and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said.