YSU Alum Thomas Heads Back to Majors, Gets Call-Up from Pirates

Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas

Youngstown -- Former Youngstown State pitcher Justin Thomas is on a Major League Baseball roster for the second time in his career, this time with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Thomas, who pitched at YSU from 2003-05, had gone 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 24 relief appearances at AAA Indianapolis this season. The 6-foot-3 lefty from Toledo, Ohio, had surrendered just two earned runs in his last 19 appearances. He had struck out 34 batters while walking just three in 34.2 innings.

Thomas made his Major League debut on Sept. 1, 2008, with the Seattle Mariners, the club that drafted him in the fourth round in 2005. Thomas, now at the age of 26, pitched in eight games for the Mariners that season, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. The Pirates claimed him off waivers after the 2009 season.

Thomas and right-handed reliever Steven Jackson were both elevated to the Major League club. According to MLB.com reporter Jen Langosch, the two vacancies were created with Zach Duke was placed on the disabled list and after Dana Eveland was designated for assignment. Thomas could get work right away as the Pirates' bullpen pitched seven innings on Wednesday at Texas.

In his three years at YSU, Thomas won 19 games in leading the Penguins to a string of successful seasons. He helped YSU to 27 wins as a freshman, and he was the staff ace on the 2004 Horizon League Championship squad and the 2005 team that won 29 games.

His 250 strikeouts at YSU rank third in school history, and he is the only pitcher in school history to have at least seven wins in back-to-back seasons.

As a junior in 2005, Thomas was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year after posting a 7-5 record with a 3.42 ERA and a career-high 88 strikeouts. He was dominant in League contests, posting a 3-1 mark with a 2.00 ERA.

The Pirates wrap up a three-game series at Texas on Thursday, but they won't return home to PNC Park until July 1.