Brandon Beachy hasn't even been out of his Indiana hometown long enough for some namesmith to brand him the "Kokomo Kid."
In fact, he was already in a postseason stage in the Braves instructional league in Florida when the call came. The big club was in a dogfight with the Phillies for the divisional title and running low on starting pitching.
Thus, there was the improbable call to Disney World, not for Donald Duck, but for Brandon himself.
Now, here was a kid -- he's actually 24 years old -- who had never been in a major league clubhouse. It took audacity to have the courage to propose this "suicidal" mission, but Bobby Cox was the manager who saw it through.
Beachy didn't stun the Phillies, but he did let them know there was a new gun in town. That meant he had a leg up when spring training came around.
Came the spring, and Beachy hadn't lost his edge, so when cutting time came, he never lost his place. On Thursday night, he made his third start of the season and kept the Braves close to the Marlins and left the game to the eventual loser, Eric O'Flaherty, the left-hander (who, by the way, is from Walla Walla, Wash., to extend the Braves' collection of unique hometowns).
Under no circumstances do I project myself as a pitching scientist, but down the road I see a starry future for Beachy. It would appear to me he could improve his change-up. His fastball hums at about 94 mph, and there isn't as much drop in velocity when he goes to his change, but that's why Roger McDowell is the pitching coach. Not me. I'm just passing through the press box.
But the bottom line is, the Braves may have struck rich ore when Gene Kerns happened to be at a summer bush league game in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia a few seasons back. Beachy was pitching and Kerns, a "bird-dog" scout, you might say, was in the stands.
He wasn't there to watch Beachy. He was just there, but interest in him developed as the game moved along.
He got on his cellphone and dialed somebody higher up the ladder and told him this kid should get their attention. So they said, "OK, we'll take a look at him in a while," or words to that effect.
"Not later, now," Kerns insisted. He was adamant.
Here was a jewel far back in the valley country that shouldn't be allowed to get away. And so it came that Kerns got his way. The Braves signed Beachy for a $20,000 -- chicken feed -- and they got a bargain and an impressive body along with it.
Beachy is 6-foot-3, weighs about 215 pounds, and looks at home pitching on any level. This is only the beginning of his fourth season in the system, after a pitcher-of-the-year performance at Mississippi last year.
If you haven't had an evening at Turner Field when he's pitching, book it next time. And in the process, check out the guy who cost the Braves $60 million, Dan Uggla, and let me know if you think he's a good fit for a team gunning for the postseason.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Citizen.