Former Virginia Tech relief pitcher Ben Rowen (2009-10), who was recently called up to the Major Leagues by the Texas Rangers, will be looking to make his Major League debut sometime in the coming days as the Rangers head out on a nine-game, 10-day road trip that will swing through his home state of California.
Rowen, who was born in Dunedin, Florida, spent his high school days in the Golden State playing for Palos Verdes High School and living in Ranchos Palos Verdes – about a 30-minute drive south of Los Angeles. He also pitched for two seasons at Los Angeles Harbor College before coming the Blacksburg.
It would mean that Rowen would not see action through the first six games of the trip – in Seattle (Friday through Sunday) and in Oakland (Monday through Wednesday), but the Rangers do head to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a three-game series starting next Friday and gives Rowen a chance to make his big-league debut in essentially his hometown. However, if he has already debuted, there is still that opportunity to pitch in the majors so close to home.
Some interesting notes regarding the Major League debut of Rowen:
- He will become the 18th former Tech player to appear in an MLB game and the seventh pitcher. Here is a list of the other 17, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
- With his debut, it will mark the first time in Tech history that two former players made their MLB debuts in the same season – as Jesse Hahn (2008-10) made his debut with the San Diego Padres back on June 3, 2014. The closest before this pair was back in the 1920s when Buddy Dear (Sept. 9, 1927 for Baltimore) and Cloy Mattox (Sept. 1, 1929) made their debuts just under two years apart.
- With his debut, it will mark just the sixth time in Tech history that three Hokies will have played in the Major Leagues in the same season. The last time that happened was back in 2009 when Kevin Barker (Reds), Joe Saunders (Angels) and Wyatt Toregas (Indians) all were in the big leagues. The other years include 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2002.
- Saunders, who also pitches for Texas, gives the Rangers a pair of Hokies on their club. Only two other times – for three seasons – has the same Major League team had two former Tech players on its roster. The first time was the 1991 Milwaukee Brewers – Franklin Stubbs and George Canale – and was followed by the the 1999 and 2000 Pittsburgh Pirates – Brad Clontz and Mike Williams.
- Saunders is scheduled to start on Saturday versus the Mariners, a club he played for last year. On April 20, 2000, Clontz and Williams both appeared in the same game out of the bullpen for the Pirates. It was the last time two Hokie players appeared in the same game, let alone the same team. It was the only time they had done that in 2000, but had done it more than a dozen times the previous season.
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