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Jason Hirsh

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Jason Michael Hirsh (born February 20, 1982 in Santa Monica, California) is a starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies in Major League Baseball. During the 2009 season, he was acquired by the New York Yankees andpitched for their Triple-A team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. 

Hirsh has a very large but athletic frame, standing at 6' 8" and weighing 250 lbs. [1]

High SchoolEdit

Despite his size, Hirsh drew little interest out of St. Francis High School of La Cañada, California, because he threw just 86-88 mph. He went undrafted, and no NCAA Division I programs wanted him, so he wound up at Division III California Lutheran.

CollegeEdit

Hirsh attended and played baseball at California Lutheran University, where he was a 3-year starter, and flashed a 97-mph fastball and a mid-80s slider. He compiled a 26-6 record with a 2.96 ERA, striking out 238 batters over 258.1 innings. He is tied for first at the university in career wins (26), and holds the record for the most strikeouts in a game (18). Twice in his college career he was named to the First-Team All-SCIAC, and in 2003 he was also an ABCA All-West Region First-Team selection.[2]

He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2nd round (59th overall) of the 2003 amateur entry draft, and signed for a $625,000 signing bonus.

Minor leaguesEdit

He dominated the New York-Penn League in his pro debut, going 3-1, with a 1.95 ERA, and limiting batters to a .175 average, fanning 33 hitters in 32.1 innings of work. The following season, he skipped the low-A Lexington Legends to record 11 victories at the Advanced-A Salem Avalanche, while honing his secondary pitches.

In 2005 Hirsh was the Texas League Pitcher of the Year with Double A Corpus Christi after finishing with a team-leading 13 wins, and leading the league with 165 strikeouts while ranking second in ERA (2.87) and innings (172.1). He also earned Texas League post-season All-Star honors. He was team MBP, and was the Texas League pitcher of the week three times.

Hirsh was rated as the Astros top prospect by Baseball America heading into the 2006 season, and was also listed with "Best Control" in the organization.

Hirsh began 2006 with the Triple A Round Rock Express, where he had a record of 13-2 (including a 12-game winning streak; an Express record), and a 2.10 ERA and 118 strikeouts (both leading the league). He held batters to a .193 batting average.[3] He was named the 2006 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year.

He led the Pacific Coast League in wins (13), ranked 2nd in ERA (2.10), and 4th in strikeouts (118) and in innings pitched (137.1). He was named the starting pitcher for the U.S. Team at the 2006 MLB All-Star Futures game in Pittsburgh, and was also named a Triple A All-Star.

He was regarded as the top pitching prospect in the Astros' farm system.

In 2003-06, Hirsh's minor league record was 40-18 with a 2.90 ERA. He pitched 472.1 innings, averaging 7.3 hits, 3.0 walks, and 7.8 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Major leaguesEdit

Houston Astros (2006)Edit

Hirsh made his major league debut for the Astros on August 12, 2006. He started 9 games, winning 3 of them. He held batters to a .231 batting average when runners were in scoring position.

Colorado Rockies (2007-present)Edit

On December 12, 2006, the Astros traded Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Hirsh to the Colorado Rockies for Rockies pitchers Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio. In March 2007 Rockies manager Clint Hurdle designated Hirsh his No. 4 starter.[4]

He demonstrated much-improved command of his changeup, previously a troublesome pitch for him, and used it to great effect in his first four starts of the season, which came against the San Diego Padres (twice), and the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers once each. These are all National League West divisional opponents that he will be facing frequently, and early success was important, as he only dropped the Dodgers decision after permitting three runs in five innings. Through May 1, Hirsh compiled a 2-2 record with a 3.41 earned-run average and 25 strikeouts in 31.2 innings.

AwardsEdit

PitchingEdit

Hirsh has good leverage and pitches down to hitters. Hirsh had one of the most refined repertoires in Triple-A in 2006. He has a plus 2-seam fastball that has sink and good movement at 91-94 mph, while Hirsh’s plus hard-breaking slider is consistent and has bite at 80-86 mph (managers rated it the best breaking ball in the Texas League). Hirsh continues to refine his moderate changeup, which has fair deception and movement in the low-80s. He also throws a 4-seam fastball in the 94-96 mph range, and touches 97-98. [5][6] He’s not afraid to pitch inside, and throws strikes to both sides of the plate.

He can still improve his command, which is average. His changeup used to be an unreliable pitch, but he has employed it to much greater effect in the early going of the 2007 season and even goes to it as an out pitch when he is ahead in the count.

MiscellaneousEdit

  • Makes his offseason home in Burbank, California.
  • The Astros drafted and signed his little brother (6'5"; 235 lbs.) Matt, another Cal Lutheran righty, in the 30th round. Matt went 1-2, 5.61, in 2005 at Rookie-level Greenville.
  • Hirsh is Jewish.
  • He worked for the San Diego Chargers football team during the previous offseason, which has led him to become a passionate Chargers fan. His girlfriend, Pam Clark, got him the job.

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