Can Atlanta Braves’ Pitcher Spencer Schwellenbach Have Long Career? (2024)

Spencer Schwellenbach joined an exclusive list in baseball history when he made his Major League debut for the Atlanta Braves on May 29. It had nothing to do with his performance.

His 20-letter name, however, is tied for third longest in the game’s long history. Only Christian Encarnacion-Strand of the Cincinnati Reds and Simeon Woods Richardson of the Minnesota Twins are longer. The Reds’ infielder has one more character, including the hyphen, than the 26-letter alphabet. Woods Richardson’s full name is 22 letters.

Schwellenbach wasn’t letter-perfect in his debut, though he held the Washington Nationals scoreless for four innings. In the fifth, he yielded a double to Joey Gallo and hit Jacob Young in the head with a pitch after the rookie had squared around to bunt.

"That was scary for sure," Schwellenbach told reporters. "Obviously, very happy that he stayed in the game and that nothing was wrong with him. They came out and talked to me, just kind of got me settled down and it helped for sure. I was able to get back out there and keep going."

He struck out CJ Abrams, then gave up a three-run homer to Lane Thomas. Overall, he yielded five hits, one walk and struck out five over those five innings.

"I thought his stuff was real good," Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters. "He handled himself really well. The composure, the slowing the game down. I thought he was very impressive."

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The right-hander rose quickly to the majors after signing for $997,500 as the 59th player chosen overall – and 23rd pick in the second round – of the 2021 draft. He had Tommy John Surgery after being selected and did not take the mound again until 2023. In only 24 starts in the minors, he had a 9-3 record, 2.21 earned run average, and allowed only 79 hits in 110 innings.

Not bad for a fella who was an infielder at Nebraska until making 18 relief appearances as a senior. His 0.57 ERA for the 2021 Big Ten champions impressed plenty of scouts. Some of them still preferred him as a good-hitting shortstop who won the John Olerud Award as best two-way player in college ball that year.

The Braves liked his fastball, curve, and mature approach to the game, figuring that he was better suited to a starting role. They had him listed among potential first-rounders until discovering the medical report on his damaged elbow.

Fully recovered, the 23-year-old now features an arsenal of four-seam fastball (95 mph average, tops out at 99), slider, curveball, splitter and cutter. He locates the fastball well, then gets swing-and-miss results with the breaking balls.

He’s using the slider and splitter more, but not as much as his curve, which is his most effective pitch against left-handed batters. Even his newfound cutter has good movement and this year, he has been able to command them all.

At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, he is not physically imposing and may wear down in the second half. He has already pitched 50 innings across three levels – 15 shy of his career high a year ago.

Can Schwellenbach carve out a career befitting his long name? He’s in the rotation now because of injuries to others and likely will be handled carefully to avoid another arm going on the injured list. His future does seem bright, but it will probably take a couple years for him to reach his peak.

Longer Than Almost Anyone

Here’s where Schwellenbach’s name ranks among all-time MLB players, listed by the team and year they made their debuts:

1. Christian Encarnacion-Strand: 27 characters (2023 Reds)

2. Simeon Woods Richardson: 22 (2022 Twins)

3-T. Spencer Schwellenbach 20 (2024 Braves)

3-T. Luis Alexander Basabe: 20 (2020 Giants)

3-T. Christian Bethancourt: 20 (2013 Braves)

3-T. Fautino De Los Santos: 20 (2011 A’s)

3-T. Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 20 (2007 Braves)

3-T. Valerio De Los Santos: 20 (1998 Brewers)

3-T. William VanLandingham: 20 (1994 Giants)

3-T. Theodore Breitenstein: 20 (1891 St. Louis Browns)

Longest Name In Baseball Hall Of Fame

Schwellenbach became the 23,209th man to appear in a Major League game. Of the billions of people alive on the planet since the first big-league game in 1876, that shows how rare it is to reach that status.

Getting to the Baseball Hall of Fame is tougher. Only 346 people have been inducted, including 274 former professional players, 39 executives/pioneers, 23 managers and 10 umpires.

The longest name may surprise even the best baseball fans.

It isn’t Albert Schoendienst or Cristobal Torriente, each with 18-letter names.

Schoendienst, nicknamed Red, hit .289 over 19 seasons (1945-63) for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and Milwaukee Braves as a slick-fielding second baseman. He made nine All-Star teams and solidified his HOF status by managing the Cardinals to 1,041 wins over 14 seasons, winning the 1967 World Series.

Toriente, a native of Cuba, hit .340 over 10 years in the Negro Leagues, ending in 1932. An outfielder, he also compiled a 13-7 record as a pitcher.

The longest name also is not Alexander Cartwright (19 letters). He never threw a pitch, nor swung a bat. He is, however, credited with forming the game and its’ rules.

The longest name in the Hall of Fame belongs to the man who was in the game the longest. Connie Mack played or managed for 53 years (1894-1950). He was born in 1862 as Cornelius McGillicuddy. That’s 21, a winner.

Sorry Spencer Schwellenbach, even if you go on to greatness, you won’t quite catch him.

Can Atlanta Braves’ Pitcher Spencer Schwellenbach Have Long Career? (2024)

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