While I was searching through the website milb.com, looking for placements of the professional Valley League alumni, I came across three relievers who are off to almost unhittable starts for their minor league teams. Obviously, it’s still April, so we’re dealing with tiny sample sizes. Still, though, a great start is something to be celebrated.
- Matt Hockenberry (Woodstock 2013): Pitching for High-A Clearwater, the 9th rounder from 2014 has pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings, while allowing 5 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 5. His batting average against is .167. I’m very curious to see where Matt ends up this year. The Phillies’ bullpen is going to need all the help it can get, and Matt is already 24. Might he find himself in Philadelphia by the end of the year?)
- Kyle McGrath (Staunton 2011): Also in High-A, but for Lake Elsinore in the California League, Kyle is once again striking out a ton of batters. Heading into 2016, he struck out 103 batters in 93 1/3 innings, and he’s back at it so far this April. He’s 1-0, 0.00 in 7 games and 10 2/3 innings, along with 5 hits, only 1 walk, and a whopping 15 strikeouts. He has a career ERA of 1.64!
- Kevin Herget (Strasburg 2012): Kevin is in the same league as Hockenberry, pitching for Palm Beach. He has a history as storied as McGrath, really. A 39th round pick of the Cardinals in 2013, Kevin came into 2016 with 204 K’s in 204 1/3 innings. He’s been the best of the three so far in 2016, as he’s 0-0, 0.00, with 4 saves, and in 15 2/3 innings, he’s allowed only 2 hits, 12 walk, and has struck out 16. His batting average against is a minuscule .041!