Josh James Makes Strong MLB Debut

Congrats to former SFCBL All-Star Josh James as he made his Major League debut September 1st at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas getting the start for the Astros. James was a member of the Coral Springs Canes during the 2013 and 2014 seasons where he yielded one of the leagues hardest fastballs consistently hitting 96 MPH. In the 2013 season Josh threw 44 innings with a 3-2 record, 70 strikeouts and a 3.47 ERA. Also noted is that Josh is the highest draft pick to ever make a start for the Houston Astros as Josh was drafted in the 34th round.

The full article from the Houston Chronicle can be read below.

By: Chandler Rome

The music faded and a robust crowd hushed. Josh James circled the pitcher's mound, palmed a baseball and placed it inside his glove. He lowered his 6-foot-3 frame into a crouch behind the hill. James rose, paused for a moment, pointed to the sky and toed the rubber. James was chosen in the 34th round of the 2014 draft, one overshadowed by the Astros' inability to consummate a deal with No. 1 overall selection Brady Aiken. A pitcher presumed to aid a franchise's renaissance was gone. Few harbored similar thoughts of James, who completed an astounding ascension of professional baseball on Saturday. When he fired a first-pitch fastball during Saturday's 7-3 win, he became the lowest drafted pitcher in Astros history to start a game. He spent his last two minor league seasons with an ERA nearing five. Treating a sleep apnea diagnosis allowed him a more prosperous 2018. Between Class AA and Class AAA, he struck out a minor-league high 13.4 per nine innings. He arrived to the major leagues with 171 strikeouts — the most by any Astros minor league pitcher in a decade. James delivers fastballs in the high 90s with little discernible stress. A slider and changeup complement the power. James harnessed both later in his outing, allowing him to navigate five taxing innings of three-run ball. He was not a factor in the decision, a consequence of his slow arriving offense. Angels starter Felix Pena sailed through seven innings of two-run ball, ceding just a sacrifice fly to Brian McCann and a sixth-inning solo home run to Alex Bregman. His exit resurrected the Astros offense.Against two Angels relievers in the eighth inning, Houston scored five times, at long last seizing an opportunity it was gifted. After Tony Kemp singled and George Springer reached on a catcher's interference, Carlos Correa laced a game-tying single off Cam Bedrosian's 2-1 fastball. Before it, the Astros mustered one hit in 11 previous at-bats with runners in scoring position during this series. Bedrosian was yanked for Hansel Robles. Tyler White banged the third pitch off the top of the left-field wall, scoring Correa and Springer. It afforded the Astros their first lead in 25 innings. Eric Young, Jr. failed to catch Marwin Gonzalez' deep fly ball with two aboard, allowing two others to score and giving the Angels their fourth error. James showcased the potential which oozes from his right arm. Sixty-two of his 91 pitches were fastballs. He deploys both a two and four-seamer. The two-seamer averages nearly 97 mph. The four-seamer is harder. His third major league pitch clocked 101.1 mph. No Astros pitcher had thrown a ball that hard all season. Only one other starter in the league — Shohei Ohtani — had eclipsed 101 mph with a fastball. His nine strikeouts were the second-most by an Astros pitcher making his major league debut. J.R. Richard dispatched 15 during his introduction in 1974, a record which appears unapproachable. Intermixed were the expected pitfalls which accompany a major league debut. James required 52 pitches to collect his first six outs. Four of the first nine hitters he faced worked a full count. Two others faced a three-ball count. During his first two innings, James relied excessively on his two and four-seam fastballs. He threw just two sliders in the first inning. James did not hurl a changeup until two were out in the second inning. Kole Calhoun let the pitch sail by for a strike, evening his count at one. Calhoun hit with two men aboard. Jose Fernandez coaxed a five-pitch walk to start the frame. Taylor Ward followed with a single. It was the first hit to leave the infield against James. Consecutive strikeouts of the eight and nine-hole hitters left just Calhoun to stand between James and a scoreless frame. James misfired on a 2-2 slider to fill the count. The righthander returned with a fastball at 95.4 mph. It leaked onto the inner half. Calhoun smashed it 349 feet into the right-field seats. It exited the bat at 104 mph and allowed three runs to score. James hung his head. After David Fletcher bounced out to conclude the inning, he walked slowly to the dugout. Mike Trout loomed to begin the third. James struck him out looking on an expertly placed four-seamer. The next six men he saw were retired. He needed 11 pitches in the third and 12 in the fourth, more equally mixing his offspeed pitches to keep hitters off his fastball. After the second inning, James yielded one baserunner. Calhoun drew a fifth-inning walk and created a dilemma. The Astros trailed by two and Trout stood on deck for a third look at James. Brad Peacock warmed in the bullpen. Manager A.J. Hinch opted to allow James a shot. He fired two fastballs. Trout watched one and fouled another. Ahead 0-2, James offered a slider. Trout lifted it lazily to left field. Disaster was avoided and a debut completed. James sauntered to the dugout and slapped his mitt, looking to the sky.

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