Alex Joseph Graman (born November 17, 1977 in Huntingburg, Indiana) is a Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball and is currently their closer. He bats and throws left-handed.
Alex was a 3-time letterman for the legendary baseball coach, Bob Warn at Indiana State University from 1997-1999. Alex finished his career as a 2nd team All-MVC in 1998. He also is 4th in school history with 5 games of 10+ strikeouts in a career and is 7th on the school's single season strikeout list with 112. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the New York Yankees.
Minor league careerEdit
Alex spent 6 seasons in the New York Yankees system; 1999 with the Staten Island Yankees, where he went 6-3 and was named the Top Prospect in the New York-Penn League. In 2000, he was with the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League, compiled a record of 8-9 and was promoted to Double A with the Norwich Navigators of the Eastern League. he spent 2001 and part of 2002 with the Navigators as he went 17-11 and earned another promotion to Triple A with the Columbus Clippers of the International League in 2002. He spent the next four seasons (2002–2005) in Columbus, going 31-31, and New York. He finished 2005 with the Louisville Bats, the top farm club of the Cincinnati Reds, where he compiled a record of 2-1.
Major league careerEdit
Graman made his debut in Major League Baseball with the New York Yankees in 2004, after six seasons in the Yankee farm system. In his first start against the Chicago White Sox, he gave up 5 runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched. In his next start against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he only lasted a third of an inning, giving up five earned runs, but avoided a loss in both appearances. He was outrighted to the Yankee Triple-A club in Columbus after the game with the Tampa Bay squad. He finished the year with a 19.80 ERA.
In 2005, he fared only slightly better, giving up 2 earned runs in one and a third innings before being designated for assignment by the Yankees and later released. On August 10, 2005, Graman signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched in 5 games for their Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats, but despite having a 3.09 ERA, he was released on September 12, 2005. In 5 major league games, all with the Yankees, he has pitched in 6 1/3 innings and given up 17 hits and 13 runs all earned for an ERA of 18.47.
On January 15, 2006, Graman signed a one-year, 50 million yen (about US$467,000) contract with the Seibu Lions. Graman re-signed with the Lions after the season. Beginning in 2007, he replaced Chikara Onodera as the closer.
Graman has come into his own as a closer, finishing 2008 with a 3-3 record, 31 saves, and a 1.42 ERA. He helped the Lions win the Pacific League championship and the Climax Series before saving Games 1 and 7 of the Japan Series as Seibu beat the Yomiuri Giants 4 games to 3. Graman tossed the final two innings of Game 7, allowing no hits or walks while striking out two. He finished the postseason by allowing two earned runs in five innings, but did not allow a run in three Japan Series frames.
Alex's growth as a pitcher while in Japan, lead many in baseball to believe he will be returning to the Major Leagues in the near future; likely as a set-up man or long reliever.