It took former Missouri pitching standout Max Scherzer almost 12 months to finally sign his first professional contract. It took him only three minor-league starts to earn his first promotion.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander was promoted by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the team’s Double-A affiliate after three outings for Single-A Visalia that were nothing short of brilliant.
“He was dominant,” Visalia spokesperson Dan Besbris said.
Dominant is right. Scherzer posted a 2-0 record with a 0.54 ERA in 17 innings with Visalia in California League play, including 30 strikeouts and only two walks. Scherzer’s most notable performance came June 12 against San Jose, when he struck out 13 hitters in seven perfect innings.
Even with this type of performance, the team was surprised to see him promoted so quickly. Many teams are more deliberate in their approach with young players, waiting for more long-term results before risking promotion for a player who might not be ready.
“Three starts is very much on the short side,” Besbris said. “Everyone here thought he would be with us at least five starts.”
Scherzer is expected to make his next start for Double-A Mobile (Ala.) of the Southern League. Given these quick strides, there’s no telling how quickly Scherzer could be moving up again.
“It’s entirely a matter of how he performs,” Besbris said. “No one will be too shocked if he finishes the year in Triple-A.”
Scherzer, 7-3 with a 2.25 ERA for Missouri last season, was instrumental in the Tigers’ 2006 postseason run, which endedwith a super regional loss to Cal State Fullerton. He was picked 11th in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft by Arizona, which almost lost his rights because of stalled negotiations. But the team reached an agreement with Scherzer and agent Scott Boras at the end of May, just before a deadline that would have sent him back to the draft had he not been signed. Scherzer signed a four-year, $4.3 million contract which includes bonuses that could make the deal worth as much as $6 million.