Sunday, January 22, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #63 Roy Oswalt

It is going to be hard to watch Roy Oswalt pitch for someone else other than the Phillies in 2012. He is a great competitor and would be the "ace" on most staffs in the majors. The baseball world first became aware of Roy Oswalt when he pitched for the Houston Astros. Like most of the Houston Astros prospects developed over the last decade, I had an early preview to him courtesy of my local minor eager team, the Round Rock Express.

Oswalt began 2000 with the Class A Kissimmee Cobras of the Florida State League, going 4–3 with a 2.98 ERA before a player injury in AA got him called up. Oswalt was only expected to pitch one game and had been issued a round-trip ticket. He was supposed to be back in Florida in a couple of days.

His "one game" in AA was May 25th, 2000 against the hated San Antonio Missions. Instead of being intimidated, he became the intimidator as he struck out 15 batters and tossed a 5 hit complete game shutout. Legend has it that Express manager Jackie Moore tore up his ticket back to Florida, but it is more likely Nolan Ryan, owner of the Express (and Oswalt's idol) successfully lobbied to keep Oswalt on the roster. He stayed.

He would finish that magical season with an 11–4 record and an astounding 1.94 ERA. He notched 141 strikeouts over 19 games (18 starts). As a result of his success at Round Rock, Oswalt was selected to play on the United States baseball team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics. He wasn't on the roster when the Express won the Texas League Championship, but he was a big part of that team.


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