ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Jordan Zimmermann from Eau Claire Express to MLB All-Star

By: Jenn Chapman Email
By: Jenn Chapman Email

"Jordan just does what Jordan does," says Washington Nationals pitching coach, Steve McCatty.

No statement sums up Jordan Zimmermann better than that. The National League all-star, was a 2 sport standout at Auburndale High School before choosing to play baseball at UW-Stevens Point over football. It was the summer of 2006 with the Eau Claire Express when his true potential was realized.

"We were playing Duluth here in 2006 later in the summer, we had an Indian scout up in the stands. And in the 7th inning he had given up no runs, maybe a couple of hits but he's still throwing a 94 in the 7th inning," says Eau Claire Express manager Dale Varsho.

"I knew I could pitch against Division 1 hitters after being in that league," says Zimmermann. "You know, that's when I first thought I had a pretty good chance of being drafted."

Drafted in 2007, Zimmermann leads the National league in wins with 12, has a 2.57 ERA, and has pitched three complete games so far this season.

"He grabs a ball, here we go, I'm throwing it, me against you. You hit it, they'll catch it and the players love it," says McCatty. "Every time he goes out there, they have confidence that he's gonna keep us in the game. We get some runs and we got a good chance to win. And the guys behind him respect him and the guys who face him, they don't like facing him because they know his stuff really good."

Known for his fastball, Zimmermann has one approach to the game...throw strikes.

"We still talk about expanding the strike zone when you're ahead in the count, which means throw off the plate a little more, force yourself to throw a ball, that one he hasn't learned so well yet, cause he's just stubborn," adds McCatty.

"I don't say I'm stubborn, I'm a laid back guy," replies Zimmermann. "And, you know, when I get on the mound, I guess I'm a little more stubborn. I don't like to show my emotions out there and don't like to show the hitter what I'm thinking or make too many facial expressions and so that's why I'm pretty even keel."

Jordan Zimmermann may be playing in the nation's capital, in front of thousands of fans, as one of the best pitchers in Major League baseball, but he still remains a Wisconsin boy at heart.

"I do a lot of ice fishing and I like to get out there and get the shacks set up and it's an all day adventure. Most of the time I don't catch much but I just like being out there," says Zimmermann. "I haven't really had an opportunity to shoot a big buck yet but hopefully in the next few years I'll get a couple."

Despite all the accolades being added to his name, Zimmermann remains unchanged.

"He's just a workhorse, Jenn, he's just a flat-out workhorse. Knowing that get him the ball," says Varsho, who also coached Zimmermann in Legion baseball. "At Stevens Point, they pitched him a ton, especially in the tournaments. they pitched him a ton. And every time he was just give me the ball."

"One thing about Jordan is he's very humble. He doesn't take anything for granted and I think he's going to stay that way being a Wisconsin kid." Varsho adds.

"He likes being in the background and not really talking and getting all the adulation that goes along with this stupid job in the first place, says McCatty. "So he really enjoys that but people notice, people see what he's doing, and he's got tremendous stuff. He's a competitor."

The boy from Auburndale, population 700, to an MLB All-Star, Zimmermann says it's all an unexpected dream come true.

"As I was a youngster growing up, I thought there was no chance I'd ever make it here or be here. But you know I'm here now and it's everything that everyone see, it's that and much more. It's hard to explain how much this means to me being up here and pitching in front of these fans every single game," says Zimmermann.

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