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Waldrop now in Tri-Cities area with the Twins


Kyle Waldrop is back home in East Tennessee, sort of.

Fresh out of Farragut High School less than three months ago, the former All-state and All-American high school baseball star has moved up a notch in the professional baseball minor league ranks.

A big success statistically while pitching rookie league ball with the Gulf Coast League Twins in Fort Myers, Fla., since mid-June, Waldrop was sent up to “advanced rookie league” status, joining the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League earlier this month.


“It was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Waldrop said. “Getting down the home stretch of both seasons, Elizabethton and the Gulf Coast League, I wasn’t really expecting it. It’s definitely good to be back in Tennessee. The main thing is you work out in the evenings and play at night, so it’s a lot cooler and easier on your body. And we get to sleep in a little bit now, which isn’t a bad thing either.”

And generally speaking, it’s “so far, so good” for Waldrop after two outings in this “short season” advanced rookie league made up of teams from the Tri-Cities area in northeast Tennessee along with teams from Virginia and West Virginia.

Waldrop pitched Saturday night against the Kingsport Mets in a no-decision outcome for him, calling it “not one of my better outings.” Waldrop worked five innings, allowing four runs, three earned, five hits, seven strikeouts and two walks.

The organization is careful not to overwork its 25th pick in the first round of June’s Major League Baseball Draft. Waldrop said he tossed 81 pitches “which is a little bit more normal through five (innings),” he said. “They didn’t really hit the ball that hard. They only hit one ball out of the infield in the air all game. All five hits were ground balls that found their way through the infield.”

In his first outing with the Elizabethton Twins against the Johnson City Cardinals Aug. 10, Waldrop picked up the victory while working six innings. He allowed one earned run, five hits, six strikeouts and one walk.

NEW CHALLENGE

The results have so far been quite good, but the hurdle is now higher.

“You can tell that there’s a big difference in the hitters here,” Waldrop said. “There’s a lot more experience. It seems like a lot of the guys I’ve been facing are three-, four-year guys out of the big colleges, major colleges. They’re a lot more advanced hitters, they’re smarter. You’ve got to be able to cross ’em up … they’re definitely a lot tougher to get out because they foul balls off a lot, and they have better eyes, so they’re not going to chase pitches out of the zone very much.”

Unless his team makes the playoffs, which is a possibility, Waldrop’s stint with Elizabethton will end in less than two weeks. As for the number of starts he’ll likely get before the end of the regular season, “I think it’ll be two,” Waldrop said.

FINAL “GULF’ STATS

Waldrop said his final Gulf Coast League statistics read as follows: a 1.42 earned run average in 38 innings pitched with 32 hits allowed, “between 32 to 34” strikeouts, a 3-2 record and only four walks allowed.

 

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