Whether it was starting in the NCAA World Series as a freshman or his ascent through the minor leagues, St. Francis High graduate Christian Bergman has been on the rise since his days as a Golden Knights standout leading his team to the CIF finals.
On Saturday, that rise reached its zenith, as it became official that Bergman would be called up to the Colorado Rockies, getting the start on the mound in his Major League Baseball debut on Monday against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field.
“Right now, [I am] kind of numb,” Bergman texted on Saturday. “Hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m sure it will the first time I put on that uniform. But it feels great. I’ve never felt better.”
The 26-year-old Bergman, who was drafted by the Rockies in the 24th round out of UC Irvine with the 470th overall pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, has posted a 3.84 earned-run average with a 4-4 record over 12 starts this season for the Colorado Spring Sox, the Rockies’ triple-A affiliate.
“He's performed very well, particularly in Colorado Springs, where he's been dominant," Rockies Manager Walt Weiss told the Denver Post on Saturday. “He's very intelligent, very good command. He has the ability to execute to a scouting report and a gameplan. He has a very good feel for pitching.”
Much like Coors Field, Colorado Springs is considered a hitter-friendly park, but Bergman turned in a 2.04 ERA there. Bergman is coming off a victory Tuesday in which he allowed two runs over six innings to record his sixth quality start over his last seven appearances.
“I’m excited for the kid,” said current St. Francis Coach Aaron Milam, who was an assistant for the Golden Knights during Bergman’s playing days for St. Francis. “I think it’s awesome. I couldn’t be happier for him.
“I’m not surprised. We knew it was gonna happen soon.”
Milam was one of many Bergman, who was told first of the call-up on Friday, contacted with the news on what the right-hander called a “crazy” Saturday.
As a senior at St. Francis in 2006, Bergman was voted the All-Area Baseball Player of the Year after leading the Golden Knights to an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division III championship.
Bergman then went on to prosperity at UC Irvine, where he got a surprise start against Oregon State in the Anteaters’ first-ever NCAA Division I World Series appearance in 2007 as a true freshman. He followed that up with a breakout sophomore year in which he went 5-2 with a 1.94 ERA on his way to a four-year career with the Eaters in which he was a multiple-time All-American and All-Big West Conference pick.
After his senior season, he was predicted to go as early as the sixth round in the draft, but fell to the 24th round.
Bergman struggled a bit at the onset of his minor league career, but flourished from 2011 on, as he was a California League mid-season all-star in single-A in 2012 and was a double-A mid-season all-star in the Texas League in 2013.
Now, it’s off to the next – and biggest – stage.
“He was always the kid you knew you were gonna see on the big stage,” Milam said. “He’s just gotten better and better.”
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.