SEATTLE – Napoleon graduate Art Warren’s dream of reaching Major League Baseball became reality Tuesday, when the Seattle Mariners announced the club was promoting Warren from its AA affiliate in Arkansas to the big club.
Warren and three other teammates from Arkansas were signed and in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. He becomes the first Napoleon High School baseball player to reach the major leagues.
“It’s been insane,” said Warren when asked what the last 24 hours were like for him.
Warren’s minor league team lost its five-game playoff series Sunday and it seemed like the end of another baseball season for him after the coaching staff announced the Mariners were promoting three players – the team’s shortstop, top outfielder and best starting pitcher.
Warren went to take a shower and begin preparing to move back home.
“The coaches went back into the office and when they came back out they said Seattle decided they needed our closer, too,” said Warren, who led Arkansas with 15 saves this season. “I had just come out of the shower and all my teammates were clapping for me.”
A 2010 graduate of Napoleon High School, Warren helped lead the Wildcats to their second district title in school history. He then went to pitch at the University of Cincinnati, where he injured his shoulder and needed surgery.
After the surgery, which many thought would end his career, Warren transferred to Ashland University and was drafted in the 23rd round by the Mariners in the 2015 MLB Draft.
“There have been a lot of highs and lows,” said Warren. “The lowest was when I was told I would never pitch again.”
Warren’s shoulder surgery was performed by the Cincinnati Reds team surgeon. The same Reds team Warren is likely to make his major league debut against in the next few days.
“It’s strange how that works out,” said Warren. “They say those things come around.”
Warren said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he has received since being told of his promotion.
“It’s been emotional, especially when I called to tell my mom,” said Warren. “I don’t think she stopped crying the whole time (we talked). My whole family is flying here right now. A lot more people I know are planning to come to Pittsburgh next week.”
The Mariners host the Reds for three games, which began Tuesday. After a weekend home stand against the Chicago White Sox, Seattle travels to Pittsburgh for three games Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week.
Warren, 26, had posted a 2-1 record with a 1.71 ERA for Arkansas. His 15 saves came in 17 chances and earned him Texas League postseason All-Star honors this season.
Warren will wear No. 43 for the Mariners.
“This has been so special and a big part of that is coming from Napoleon,” said Warren. “When I was in high school I talked to Dave Rohrbaugh about the fact there had never been a Major League Baseball player from Napoleon. To be the first one is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
“A lot of people helped me get to this place,” added Warren. “The best thing about being from a small town like Napoleon is that it feels like the entire community is celebrating this with me.”