MILWAUKEE — Former Brainerd Blue Thunder outfielder Erik Komatsu is perhaps the biggest surprise on an opening day roster this year.
Komatsu, who last year played in Double-A in the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals organizations, finds himself in the big leagues after impressing the Cardinals, who selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in the offseason.
Komatsu made his major league debut Friday in an 11-5 victory at Milwaukee. He reached on an infield single against reliever Tim Dillard in the ninth inning.
The 24-year-old left-handed hitting and throwing Komatsu was an eighth-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton by the Brewers in 2008. He’s a career .302 hitter in four minor league seasons.
As a Rule 5 player the Cardinals must keep Komatsu on their major league roster for the entire season or offer him back to the Nationals at half of the $50,000 price they paid to acquire him.
Komatsu played for the Blue Thunder for two summers. He patrolled the same outfield for the 2006-07 seasons for Brainerd as current Detroit Tiger Andy Dirks.
In his full season in Brainerd in 2006, Komatsu batted .273 with 13 doubles and 22 RBIs in 67 games. He walked 28 times compared to 25 strikeouts. In 2007, he was limited to 12 games due to an injury.