Nelson still keeps in contact with Holdzkom, and follows him on Twitter. Holdzkom personally calls Nelson and talks about his time at SLCC.
“DG met with me and took me out for breakfast. After we met at SLCC,” says Holdzkom.
Although he wasn’t a troubled kid, Nelson remembers him more as a prankster that lacked discipline and guidance.
“Holdzkom was the type of guy that was easy to get along with, but also had a tumultuous career in a few places; [it was] just a matter of growing up without a father and has had a hard time finding a guide in his life to [know] how to discipline himself, to accomplish what he wants to accomplish,” says Nelson.
In 2005, the Seattle Mariners drafted Holdzkom in the 15th round of the MLB Draft, but he chose to come to SLCC to polish his pitching skills.
“Back then [MLB] had a thing called ‘draft and follow.’ He was such a late bloomer struggling with strikes,” says Nelson. “But back then they could own him, if they drafted him they own him for a year. So one week before the draft they had that much time to sign him, so he came here to develop and improve his stock and get a little more known.”
“Driving to Phoenix, [was] a lot of fun on the bus with teammates. The whole experience of away games,” says Holdzkom, of the best times he had while playing with SLCC.
Holdzkom, a right-hander, was 3-2 with a 4.26 ERA in nine starts and 10 total appearances for SLCC in 2006, allowing 18 hits and striking out 44 in 31 2/3 innings.
His main problem, while pitching at SLCC, was streakiness, “but when he was in the zone, obviously he wasn’t going to get hit,” says Nelson.
As a 6-foot-8 pitcher, Holdzkom would find some success at SLCC, throwing 98-99 mph.
“He hadn’t grown into his body yet to be able to control it. Obviously, he had a very special arm, but the part you can’t teach and the part that he struggled [with] when he was here, throughout his career, [was that] he’s had control issues, throwing strikes and locating the pitches,” says Nelson.
His time at SLCC played a pivotal role in the success he is having now. The New York Mets drafted him in 2006, but in 2008 he suffered an elbow injury and underwent Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the 2009 season.
“It hurts because you have to take time off from work. I almost took two years off after the surgery,” says Holdzkom.
He then briefly returned to the Mets for the 2010 season, but after not playing in 2011 he signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds in 2012.
Holdzkom is a New Zealand-American, and because of his heritage he was able to represent New Zealand in the World Baseball Classic Qualification Series in 2013.
“The Pittsburgh Pirates own my rights. It is not a contract that I am under, as long as I keep playing well, I have a home in Pittsburgh,” says Holdzkom.
The Pasadena, California native had a 1-0 record with the Pirates in 2014, logging a 2.00 ERA and 14 strikeouts in nine appearances late in the season.
He chose to come to Salt Lake because he liked the culture and the area, but with his Major League success he can now say that he is happy with himself in the Pirates organization.
Reflecting on his time with the Bruins, Holdzkom says, “What I miss most, honestly, it sounds cliché, but the friends that I made at SLCC, my teammates and Apollo Burger.”