Kroenke Makes Major League Debut

Zach Kroenke has had a rather circuitous path to the major leagues. Kroenke played his high school ball at Omaha Northwest High School where he had a successful career capped off with a 4-5 record with a 3.42 ERA leading the state with 90 strikeouts in 53 innings.

His pitching prowess landed Kroenke a baseball scholarship to play for Nebraska. He played for the corn huskers for three years earning accolades each season while showing baseball scouts he had what it took to be a professional baseball player.

Kroenke got his chance when the New York Yankees drafted him during the fifth round in 2005. After signing he reported to the Class-A Staten Island where he appeared in 11 games.

He continued to pitch well but found himself bouncing back and forth between lower levels of the Yankees farm system. Finally after the 2008 season the Yankees felt he did not warrant a spot on their 40-man roster.

Leaving him off the roster, Kroenke was eligible to be selected during the Rule 5 draft that December. The Florida Marlins selected him and he reported to Spring Training the next February now in the National League.

Kroenke struggled with his command and the Marlins offered him back to the Yankees. After the 2009 season, he once again found himself not on the Yankees 40-man roster and once again available during the Rule 5 draft.

For the second year in a row, a National League team selected Kroenke. This time it was the Arizona Diamondbacks. He reported to Tucson for Spring Training 2010 and for the second straight year he struggled in the Major League camp.

Rather than offer him back to the Yankees, the Diamondbacks worked out a trade with New York and kept Kroenke sending him to the Triple-A Reno Aces. This season Kroenke appeared in 40 games for the Aces pitching 97 innings.

He recorded a 3.51 ERA and struck out 69 batters. These statistics coupled with the Diamondbacks need for a left-handed reliever earned him a September call-up.

Kroenke was summoned to the Diamondbacks on September 2 along with veteran Mike Hampton. Kroenke would wait patiently for his opportunity to make his major league debut.

That would finally happen in Denver Colorado against the Rockies. In his debut he would learn first hand how formidable the Rockies hitters could be. Kroenke would pitch 1.1 innings throwing 27 pitches.

In those 27 pitches the Rockies would get six hits and three runs including a home run. In a blink of an eye Kroenke would see his Major League ERA balloon to 20.25. Welcome to the big leagues Zach Kroenke.

Hopefully the shell shock he felt will be temporary and he can settle down. The next four weeks will act as a tryout of sorts to allow the Diamondbacks coaches and scouts an opportunity to see whether he will remain a part of the Diamondbacks plans for 2011 or if his dream to remain a major league pitcher will see him going elsewhere for a third straight year.

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