A state of civil unrest has gripped Venezuela for months, so Royals farmhand Andres Machado has spent the summer calling home to his parents, checking in on the latest development.
This week, he phoned home once more. He had happier news.
Machado, a 24-year-old right-hander, had been summoned to the major leagues, an unexpected addition as Kansas City expanded its roster beyond the usual 25 on the first day of September. As he told his mother the news, she was overcome with emotion.
“She sat and cried,” Machado said.
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Machado joined the Royals on Friday here at Target Field as the club made a flurry of roster moves. In the first wave of September callups, outfielders Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando returned to the majors, as did infielder Raul Mondesi and catcher Cam Gallagher. All will serve in backup roles.
In addition, the club reinstated pitcher Trevor Cahill to pitch out of the bullpen and claimed reliever Sam Gaviglio off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. Gaviglio, 27, posted a 4.62 ERA in 12 games, including 11 starts, for the Mariners. His last big-league start came on July 18. More callups — including outfielder Jorge Soler — could happen when the Class AAA Omaha season ends next week.
But no move surprised on Friday more than the addition of Machado, who was signed as an amateur out of his native Venezuela, overcame Tommy John surgery in 2015 and moved through the ranks this season, beginning the season at Class A Wilmington.
Machado, 6 feet and 175 pounds, possesses a fastball that sits in the mid 90s and can max out at 98 mph. He also possesses a two-seam fastball, a slider and a change-up, he said. He posted a 3.63 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings across seven starts at Omaha. As he strung together successful outings, he believed a callup was possible.
“Dayton has been telling me about him for about month,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of GM Dayton Moore. “It just got to the point where we were going to protect him (put him on the 40-man roster) anyway this winter.”
Growing up in Venezuela, Machado said he idolized Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who won the Cy Young Award in 2010. He sought to pitch like him, and as he was moving through the minors, long-time Royals pitching instructor Bill Fischer told Machado that he resembled Hernandez.
Fischer, 86, a former major-league pitcher and pitching coach, told Machado that “you’ve got stuff like him.” Machado smiled at the thought.
“I said, that’s my favorite player in the big leagues,” Machado recalled.
So for the moment, Machado will get a chance. The Royals’ bullpen is in need of arms. He will be able to flash his power stuff.
“This is big emotions,” he said. “It’s my first time.”