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Josh Collmenter: The Diamondbacks' Million-Dollar Arm

Since his debut in 2011, Josh Collmenter has been the Diamondbacks' most valuable pitcher. Not bad for a 15th-round draft pick.

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Christian Petersen

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"I always continue to work hard, and it’s fun to be able to prove people wrong – to be able to go in and say ‘I know what I’m doing,’ have success and to continue to build on it."-Josh Collmenter

It's a combination of being good, and coming out of nowhere, which makes Collmenter the closest thing the Diamondbacks have to that "million dollar arm." He was chosen with the 463rd pick in 2007 - to put that into context, only one other player from that round has even reached the majors, seven and a half seasons later [C.J. Fick throwing 20.2 innings in 2012 for the Cardinals and Astros] - and that tendency to be overlooked has followed Collmenter. It's understandable, since his stuff can hardly be described as overpowering. Josh's average fastball last season was only 86 mph, the slowest, by 1.7 mph, of any qualifying pitcher in the National League.

And yet, he was our only starter with an ERA below four in 2014, posting an ERA of 3.46 for the season. He finished the year particularly strong, with a 1.26 ERA over his last seven starts, walking only five batters in 50 innings. The most obvious reason is a deceptive delivery, Collmenter throwing virtually over-the-top, an action he suspects may stem from throwing axes at trees in his youth. It means the ball is harder for batters to pick up: he said, "A lot of people consider me a right-handed lefty. They say it comes out from the side where a lefty should throw." Add a virtually indistinguishable change-up from the same arm slot, and his 86 mph fastball plays a lot harder.

But at times, it has been hard for the Diamondbacks to know what do with him. He started as a long reliever, then moved to the rotation in May 2011, and came fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting that year. But a poor start to his 2012 campaign saw him relegated to the bullpen, and he remained there through the entire 2013 season. Not that this bothered him, and his rubber arm became the stuff of legend, beginning in the opening series that year, where he threw five frames of one-run relief to get the W in the final game - the day after throwing 1.2 innings. It wasn't even his best or longest bullpen outing, as he threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball later in the year.

2014 saw him start in the bullpen again, but after Randall Delgado flopped, he returned to the rotation, responding with a career-high 179.1 innings of work, the only Arizona pitcher to reach 10 wins this season. His season peaked with a remarkable outing against Cincinnati on May 29, where he became the second player in Diamondbacks history to throw a complete game and face the minimum 27 batters (below). It's safe to say, this performance, as well as Collmenter's 2014 as a whole, will be nominated and strongly in the running for the 'Pitties, when we start handing out our awards, later this off-season.

But it's not just his excellence on the mound that have made Collmenter a fan favorite, it's his quirky and endearing acts off the field, showcasing Josh's deadpan sense of humor, that can only be appreciated . This year alone, we have seen the "Win a date with Josh Collmenter" promotion in Australia, his invention of "gargoyling", wearing stars and stripes socks during his start on Independence Day, or simply Collmenter showing up to Phoenix ComiCon dressed as a Star Wars jedi (not to mention the Collmenter jedi bobblehead). We look forward to enjoying both his unique personality off the field, and his performances on it, for many more years.