Longshot Achter welcomes challenge before him

Low-round Draft pick in 2010 is used to having his 'back against the wall'

Longshot Achter welcomes challenge before him

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Twins reliever A.J. Achter made his Major League debut as a September callup last season, he became one of the lowest Draft picks in franchise history to make a debut. In fact, Achter was taken in a round that doesn't even exist anymore.

Achter was taken in the 46th round in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, just two years before the Draft dropped from 50 to 40 rounds. So Achter had it in his mind all along during his time in the Minor Leagues, he could be one of the last players drafted after the 40th round to play in the Majors.

"I knew once they got rid of that round it would be pretty cool to say that I made it," Achter said. "So the odds have always been stacked up against me."

Despite those odds, Achter pitched well enough last year to earn the callup to the Majors, as he combined to a post a 2.17 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings at Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. He fared well in his brief time in the Majors, as he had a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings over seven appearances. Achter, who pitched at Michigan State, also picked up his first Major League win in Detroit against the Tigers.

He's among several relievers trying to crack the bullpen this year, along with other candidates such as Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, Blaine Boyer, Mark Hamburger, Aaron Thompson, J.R. Graham and Lester Oliveros. The odds might be stacked against him yet again, but it doesn't bother Achter, who has thrown three scoreless innings in two appearances this spring.

"The way I've gone about my whole career is that my back has been up against the wall a little bit compared to some of the other guys," Achter said. "I think that's the way it's always been my whole career, so I'm not going to change who I am and work every day and once I get on the mound attack like I always do."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.