2/7/2013 8:42:00 PM Caleb Thielbar on Twins' 40-man roster
by Katie Weidner
Caleb Thielbar, a 2005 graduate of Randolph High School, had a dream come true last fall, when he was put on the Minnesota Twins baseball team's 40-man roster. Playing baseball is something he has wanted to do since he was a little boy watching his dad, Cal, play with the Cannon Falls Bears.
During high school, Caleb not only played baseball, but was also an integral part of the basketball team at RHS.
After high school, Caleb was a walk-on at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. There was talk about red-shirting him his freshman year, but he worked hard and it paid off. He started playing with the Jack Rabbits his freshman year. Over the years, he grew into a leader for the team as a left-handed relief pitcher. In the summer of 2009, just months before his December graduation, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 18th round of the MLB draft.
Caleb reported for spring training with The Brewers in 2010 and worked around their minor league teams for most of that year before he was released. With a Fisheries and Wildlife major and Business minor, Caleb wasn't sure that he was ready to give up on the dream of playing baseball professionally. He signed with the St. Paul Saints in 2011, but before the end of that first season, the Minnesota Twins stepped in and bought out the remainder of his contract.
Caleb made a quick ascent through the Twins organization during the 2012 season, starting in Fort Myers with the Miracle, the Twins' Single A team, quickly jumping up to the Double A New Britain Rock Cats. On June 20, 2012, he made his final move of the year to the AAA Rochester Red Wings.
According to Caleb, some of his fortune was due to just luck. "There were injuries and people moving up and down, and that's when the move happened," he said.
According to Twins assistant GM, Rob Antony, the move was based on performance. He was quoted at the time as saying, "He was our best guy at New Britain."
There have been struggles and hurdles that Caleb has had to adjust to at every level.
"As you move up through the different levels of baseball, the competition gets tougher and you have to be sure you work hard and never give up. Even with hard work, there are no guarantees," he said.
Caleb works hard in the off-season to stay in shape, making sure his arm and body stay healthy. Right now, his training consists of lifting weights, running and a lot of throwing. He follows a throwing program the Twins have developed, but most of his other workouts are for strengthening his lower body and core.
"The toughest part of the job," Caleb said, "is staying healthy and making sure that your body is at its best at all times. Getting enough sleep, working out and eating right are key components to that."
Throughout the years, Caleb has made some great memories, but when asked his favorite, he simply stated, "Some of the best days were playing little league in Randolph and Cannon Falls. Or just tearing up the back yard playing baseball with pal PJ McIntee." He added that it's been said that there are really only two leagues that matter - and that is Little League and The Big Leagues.
Caleb looks forward to the possibility of pitching to local All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, but if given the opportunity, would also like to pitch to one of the Molinas. Yadier Molina is a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and his brother Jose Molina catches for the Tampa Bay Rays. Facing Derek Jeter in a game and seeing what he could do is something else that Caleb thinks would be a highlight. In his AAA days in Rochester last summer, Chase Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies 2nd baseman was brought down for a one-game rehab and Caleb got to face him. "He struck out looking."
Caleb's advice for aspiring young athletes is to stay focused. "Set goals - tough goals - and never be satisfied. When you have a bad game, try to forget it. Go out and be better the next time."
The dream of a young boy to play in the Major Leagues is becoming that much closer to reality as Caleb prepares to head to Ft. Myers, FL for spring training. He leaves town in early February, as pitchers and catchers report for duty on February 14.
When he's not playing baseball, Caleb enjoys fishing and bird hunting with his dog Cliff. Caleb is the son of Janet and Cal Thielbar of Randolph.