Braves shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky was on his way home from park-hopping through Disney Tuesday night in Orlando, when he got his first major-league call-up. Talk about a wild ride.
After Alex Gonzalez went down with a calf injury, the Braves turned to their top shortstop prospect for a little insurance behind veteran Jack Wilson. They’d told Pastornicky they wanted him to work out in Instructional League in case of an emergency. How about the final game of the season against the Phillies in a must-win game?
“It was a pretty good moment,” said Pastornicky, 21, who got the call at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and flew to Atlanta Wednesday morning. “…Just to be here is something you dream about, getting a chance to go to the playoffs. I’m still in shock a little bit.”
His first call was to his father Cliff, now a scout for the Blue Jays, who knew a bit about what his son was feeling. He played 10 games in 1983 for the Kansas City Royals. That was all he got, playing third base in an organization behind Hall of Famer George Brett.
“I think I caught him off-guard a little bit,” Pastornicky said. “He said, ‘No way, stop (messing) with me.’ I said, ‘I’m serious.’”
The Braves only planned to use Pastornicky in an emergency situation, needing another sure-handed shortstop with Martin Prado only a last-ditch option.
Pastornicky hit .314 combined in Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this season and is known for being above-average defensively. He said he is back to 100 percent six weeks removed from suffering a high ankle sprain. He said he stole a few bases in the five games he played in Instructional League.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez saw Pastornicky play in five games in spring training and said his minor league reports all season have been good.
“Go get ‘em baby,” Gonzalez said. “Welcome to the big leagues, right?”