Though I have covered Duke the last two seasons for Aerys Sports, Friday night was the first time I actually watched right-hander Marcus Stroman pitch in person. He is no longer pitching at Duke, but he is a Duke product none the less who was one of the most dominant pitchers in college baseball in 2012 (and ever at Duke).
Stroman was drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays last June and seemed headed for the big leagues, if not at the end of 2012, at least by now. A 50-game suspension halted the quick movement, but he has not seemed to let that distract him. His stature (he is only 5’9) always seems to be a talking point when determining if he is a big league talent and that only makes Stroman more determined to prove the doubters wrong.
Stroman and his Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cat teammates were in Trenton for the second game of a four game series. They had just had their eight-game winning streak halted on Thursday night and he was looking to start another winning streak.
Stroman looked good early, with a walk being his only blemish until Thunder first baseman Kyle Roller ripped a double with two outs in the fourth. At that point, the Fisher Cats were already leading 3-0 and it looked as though Stroman was cruising to his sixth win of the season.
Instead, Trenton started to chip away. They got their first run in the 5th inning on an RBI ground out. This really irritated Stroman, who just missed the ground ball up the middle that would have either gotten the runner out at the plate or kept him standing at third base.
In his final inning, the seventh. Yeral Sanchez ripped a double and came around to score on a sac fly. It was a bang-bang play at the plate, as Brad Glenn‘s throw from right field almost got the non-sliding Sanchez at the plate (he actually jarred the ball loose when he crashed into NH catcher AJ Jimenez).
Stroman allowed those two runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings. He struck out five. He really looked good, minus those walks. He was still touching 95 mph in his final inning.
However, he did not pick up his sixth victory. Alan Farina allowed the tying run to score in the 8th inning, as a leadoff triple was followed by a sac fly to tie the game at 3-3. The game would stay tied until Glenn blasted a solo homerun in the top of the tenth.
Following the game (and despite the fact that he had some family and friends in attendance), Stroman signed autographs and talked to the fans. He thanked many (including me) for coming out and supporting him. He’s a super nice guy with a great future in baseball ahead (and a great sense of style).
Blue Jays fan, be ready to welcome Marcus Stroman when his time comes. And as he always says “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart”.