Fleming reflects on magical rookie season

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It was an amazing 2020 for Major League Baseball pitcher Josh Fleming, a 2014 graduate of Columbia High School. He capped off an unbeaten rookie regular season with appearances in the playoffs and World Series for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fleming, who went 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in seven appearances (five starts) for the Rays during the regular season, pitched three innings of relief in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, allowing two runs on three hits. 

The Rays eventually won the ALCS in seven games, advancing to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fleming was also selected to the World Series roster for the Rays and was used right away, pitching two and two-thirds innings of relief in Game 1 during an 8-3 loss.

Fleming allowed five hits and two earned runs, striking out two and walking one.

The Dodgers went on to take the series in six games.

“It was just surreal being a part of the World Series and the ALCS and like, all those rosters,” Fleming told MLB Network Radio recently. “It was just, I mean, moments that you dream of as a kid and when it happens, it happens so fast and then, you know, when it’s done you just look back on it, you’re like ‘Whoa, that just happened.’”

Fleming, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound southpaw, was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB draft following a spectacular pitching career at NCAA Division III Webster University in St. Louis.

The 24-year-old just completed his fourth season of professional baseball. He wears jersey No. 61 for the Rays.

Fleming is preparing himself to compete for a permanent spot in Tampa Bay’s rotation in 2021.

“It gives me a lot of confidence, I think, going into next year,” Fleming said of his rookie success. “I’m fighting for a starting spot. That’s my mentality. I want to be a part of that rotation right away.”

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