Former Canisius College pitcher John Axford made some school history Monday night when he was called up to the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen from Triple-A Nashville. Axford, who started his career at Notre Dame before transferring due to Tommy John surgery, is believed to be the first Canisius player on a major-league roster since the infamous Billy Goeckel played 37 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1899 (yes, 1899).
Axford, 26, had a meteoric rise this year through three levels of the Brewers' chain, totaling a 9-1 record, 2.77 earned-run average and 89 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings. He was at Class A Brevard County (4-1, 1.63 in 19 games), Double-A (0-0, 3.52 in four games) and Nashville (5-0, 3.55 in 22 games).
The Simcoe, Ont., native was planning to play for Canada in the World Cup when the Brewers pulled back his permission to play in the tournament. Axford played for Canisius in 2006 and his numbers (3-8, 5.08) show that he was certainly on the road back from surgery, although he did have 75 strikeouts in 70 innings. He has reportedly pushed his fastball up to 97 mph in Triple-A this season.