James Buckelew has taken the long road through professional baseball.
Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 187 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
James Edison Buckelew is a 6’2″, 155 lb. left-handed reliever from Suwanee, Georgia. If Buckelew gets to the major leagues, he’ll the the second Suwanee native to make it there, behind Charlie Blackmon.
Buckelew was born on August 4th, 1991, and in 2010 was drafted in the 45th round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the Minnesota Twins, out of Collins Hill HS. He did not sign, instead electing to play Division I baseball for the Belmont Bruins in the Atlantic Sun Conference. In four seasons he played almost exclusively as a starter, making 53 starts and taking nine trips out of the bullpen. He was 19-17 with a 4.27 ERA overall, striking out 176 in 294 1/3 innings. After graduating, he did not get drafted a second time, and signed through free agency with the Miami Marlins.
After coming to terms, Buckelew initially joined the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League for most of the 2014 season. In 11 trips out of the bullpen, he struck out 21 in 20 innings. In 2015 with the single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in the South Atlantic League, he tied for the team lead with 43 appearances, going 6-4 with a 3.72 ERA and 70 K’s in 77 1/3 innings.
In 2016, Buckelew spent most of the campaign with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League. He started in nine of his 31 appearances, and posted a 2.74 ERA and a 5-2 record with a 1.23 WHIP. After the regular season, he pitched in eight games for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League (see below, courtesy of a user named “baseball” on You Tube.
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2017 would see Buckelew split his season between the double-A level with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Jupiter. He made 10 starts and appeared in 31 games in total, pitching 63 innnings for the Hammerheads and 33 for Jacksonville. Between the two, he struck out 72 and authored an enviable 1.03 WHIP while batters managed just a .202/.275/.274 slashline.
2018 would start for Buckelew at the triple-A level for the first time, with the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League. In six relief appearances, he allowed 15 hits and six walks in only 13 innings, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA. On May 4th he was sent down to the Shrimp, where he pitched four innings over two games before getting released on May 13th.
When nobody came calling at first, Buckelew signed on with the Independent Kansas City T-Bones, in the American Association for a bit. The Chicago Cubs signed him on July 5th through free agency. He’s currently still in their system, rostered with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the high-A Carolina League.
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