At 6:01 EDT on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at L.P. Frans Stadium, pitcher Dillon Tate threw his first pitch as a member of the Hickory Crawdads – a 98 mph heater low and away to fellow first-rounder Kevin Newman of West Virginia.
The bespectacled, right-hander went on to throw 15 pitches in his maiden outing as a Crawdad before turning the game over to teammate Brett Martin.
Thirteen of the 15 pitches Tate threw were fastballs, all reading between 97-99 mph on the stadium radar gun (which is currently a tick or two fast). Seven went for strikes and two of those missed bats – both by Jordan Luplow on the only strikeout.
The fourth-overall selection by the Texas Rangers in June 2012, also threw two sliders: one taken for a strike at 90; the other at 92 was swung through.
“He heated up the radar gun that says 99 a few times. Obviously, his stuff is there,” said Crawdads manager Corey Ragsdale. Getting to see it for the first time, it’s obvious why we took him as high as we did. I’m looking forward to watching him grow.”
For his part, Tate was pleased with how the short stint played out.
“I felt pretty good out there. It was fun to be out there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a W.” (The Crawdads went on to lose to West Virginia 9-0.)
After signing with the Rangers, Tate pitched just two one-inning stints with short-season Spokane, sitting out for six weeks in between the two after resting a tired arm.
The product of UC Santa Barbara threw 103.1 innings during his junior season with the Gauchos. With the amount of work during the college season, the plan for the remainder of the season is to limit the young hurler to one and two-inning stints.
“Right now, with where my body is at, with the amount of throwing that I did previously, I think I’m fine with that for now,” said Tate. “That’s kind of just what my body is telling, that one and two is enough for right now.”
Ragsdale said that the abbreviated starts will enable Tate to adjust to life as a pro.
“With the amount of innings he’s thrown, we’re just trying to get him acclimated a little bit.”
As far as his repertoire goes for now, Tate plans to stick mostly to the two-pitch mix during the short stints while developing his change
Tate said, “Right now, I’m just pitching to my strength. So when my changeup starts to develop a little bit more, I think that’s something that I’ll throw within a one-inning stint or a two-inning stint. I just didn’t think I had the best feel for it at this point, so I’m still working on it.”