Saturday, February 14, 2015

Friday Five: Durham Bulls Pitchers

It's Saturday, not Friday, but I love making these posts and had a really busy week.  I am catching up a little bit on cards and baseball today.  So, I missed out on my Durham Bulls Friday Five yesterday, but I had a lot of fun doing the research on this one.  Rather than doing the normal five players for this post I am going to give you six cool Durham Bulls pitchers, three modern players and three older players.  Modern first......

Jeremy Hellickson

In my opinion the best Bulls pitcher in history of the franchise since they moved up to the Triple A level.  Hellickson appeared on the Bulls roster during the 2009 and 2010 seasons and returned this last season for several rehab starts.  In all Hellickson has started 35 games for the Bulls in his career with a 19-8 record, 2.93 ERA, and 209 strikeouts.  Half of the losses came during his 2014 and his ERA was 7.36.  So, subtract those numbers and you only have 30 starts with a 18-4 record and 193 K's in 175 innings pitched.  Hellickson also took home a haul of hardware while playing in Durham.  In 2009 he was named the MVP of the Triple A National Championship game.  The following season he took home the International League Pitcher of the Year Award, Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award, and the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year award.  

J.D. Martin 

J.D. Martin pitched in the Cleveland and Washington farm systems for a long time before he made the 24 starts for the Nationals in 2009 and 2010.  Then he ended up back in the minors again and on the Bulls roster in 2013.  Martin was not always the prettiest pitcher to watch, but the guy got a lot of people out en route to taking home the Bulls second International League Pitcher of the Year Award.  Overall, Martin went 16-4 for the Bulls with a 2.75 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 27 starts.  Martin finished his career playing for in the Korean Baseball League.  

Kent Mercker 

Merker won the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year Award for the Durham Bulls back in 1988.  He only pitched in 19 games for the Bulls that season before he was promoted to Double A Greenville, but his efforts were still good enough to earn the award.  In 19 starts that season the left-handed starter went 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA, and 159 strikeouts in just 127.2 innings pitched.  

and now the always fun old guys in the Durham Bulls post.  All of these players had better career numbers with the Bulls than any of the modern guys, but they also all played multiple seasons for the team.  The stat sheets are a little shaky for some of these players.....

Robert Cruze
Cruze first appeared for the Bulls in 1950 as a 20 year old prospect for the Tigers.  He completed the season at 11-8 with an ERA of 2.31.  There are no strikeout totals for the season, but it appears that he pitched 140 innings that year and allowed zero home runs.  Cruze missed the 1951, 1952, and 1953 seasons, possibly for the Korean War?, but returned to baseball and the Durham Bulls in 1954.  Cruze went 19-7 in 33 starts for the Bulls that year pitching as a 24 year old with the Tigers Class B team.  After bouncing around to some other Tigers minor league teams Cruze returned to the Bulls in 1956 where he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA while pitching 206 innings.  Overall, Cruze went 46-23 in three seasons for the Bulls with an ERA of 2.84.  

Eddie Neville 
Neville pitched for the Bulls in the late 1940 and early 1950s.  He was actually a teammate of Cruze's for one season in 1954, strangely the first two old time pitchers on my list seemed to play the same era fro the Bulls, but managed to miss much overlap.  Neville's career with the Bulls started in 1949 when he went 25-10 with an ERA of .259 in 274 innings.  After stops in Toledo and Williamsport, Neville returned to Durham for the 1952, 1953, and 1954 seasons.  He won 17 games, 21 games, and 12 games in those three seasons to give him an overall mark of 75-38 in a Durham Bulls uniform.  

John McPadden 
There is not a lot of information out there about the playing career of John McPadden, but he played five seasons of minor league ball as a Tigers farmhand in the late 1940s and early 1950s all of them were with the Durham Bulls.  Overall McPadden went 61-55 with an ERA of 3.69, but two of the five seasons he played for the Bulls look like they were pretty solid.  In 1948 McPadden won 18 games with a 3.48 ERA.  He was the staff ace before Cruze and Neville appeared in Durham, but spent time playing with both players.  He capped off his minor league career in 1951 with a 20-10 effort with an ERA of 2.93.  It appears on paper to be his best season.  After that year these is no trace of McPadden playing baseball again.  

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assessment on Hellickson. He was enjoyable to watch during his tenure in Durham. He is one of my favorite all time Bulsl!