A common but rare complementary phrase to describe a position player is that he is a “professional hitter”. To me this means a hitter who knows how to move runners by going the other way with a pitch to knock in a run or move a runner, work a count to get on base and generally be someone you want at the plate when the game is on the line to score some runs. The GCL Phillies second baseman Tim Zier fits that description of a hitter I have watched this season.
But I have never heard a pitcher described as a “professional pitcher” but they do have “workmanlike outings”. To me a workmanlike outing is a starting pitcher,who gives you a quality start; does not give up hits with runners in scoring position; gives his team shutdown innings after his team puts up crooked numbers on the scoreboard; throws strikes and averages a strike out an inning but gives up a solo home run or two.
That is exactly the kind of game the Clearwater Threshers Colin Kleven pitched Saturday night against the Lakewood Flying Tigers at Bright House. He gave up only two runs, both solo home runs, and left after six inning leading 6-2. Lakeland went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position in those six innings. When the Threshers scored three runs in the third and fourth innings Kleven shutdown the opposition with no runs in the next innings.
He was strong all night even with an umpire who had a tight strike zone with no corners. Someone called it a round plate. Still Colin fanned seven and walked only one to pick up the win as the Threshers held on to win 7-5 after a typical bullpen struggle. See several of Kleven’s “strike threes” HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE. His final pitch in the sixth inning was his best pitch of the game as he overpowered a Flying Tiger for a swinging strike three with a pitch on the outside part of the plate. HERE.
Colin Kleven is on the verge of a break out season over his last several starts. In his last four starts he is 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA. In those 25 innings he has given up only 17 hits, five earned runs and struck out 24.
On Saturday night Kleven exceeded the pitching metrics I look for in a starting pitcher of a strikeout an inning and a better than a 3 to 1 strike out to walk ratio over at least six innings of work.
The 6’5″, 23 year old native of British Columbia, Kleven is in his sixth season in the Phillies organization. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 33 round of the 2009 draft as an 18 year old . He will be eligible for the Rule Five draft in December if the Phillies do not protect him on the 40 man roster.
The way he has been pitching would certainly get the attention of rebuilding teams looking for a way to take a chance to pick up a young starting pitching piece for only $50,000. He is after all giving workmanlike performances start after start in the second half of this season.