Each Wednesday timberrattlers.com will countdown the top 20 seasons by a Timber Rattler until #1 is revealed on August 29th. This week: #17
Joe Mays 1997
9-3, 2.09 ERA, 13 games started, 1 complete game, 81.2 innings pitched, 62 hits allowed, 19 earned runs allowed, 23 walks, 79 strikeouts
Seattle selected Joe Mays in the 6th round of the 1994 draft out of Manatee Community College. He started his pro career in the Arizona League the following season and showed promise, compiling a 3.25 ERA and a 2-3 record. He followed that up by going 4-4 with a 3.08 ERA for Everett. It would set him up for a breakout 1997 season.
Mays made thirteen starts for the Rattlers, winning nine of them. It was a talented staff for Wisconsin, with Mays being one of five pitchers to make it to the Majors (Brian Fuentes, Brian Fitzgerald, Denny Stark, and Gil Meche being the others). A mid-season promotion limited Mays to only 81.2 innings with the Timber Rattlers, so his 2.09 ERA doesn't qualify for the best in franchise history. He would go on to win 7 games with Lancaster in the California League, giving him 16 victories for the year.
Mays would be traded in October of 1997 (along with another former Timber Rattler, P Jeromy Palki) to the Minnesota Twins for OF Roberto Kelly. After spending '98 in high A and AA, Mays earned a spot on the Twins pitching staff during Spring Training in 1999 and spent the entire year in the Majors, winning 6 games. His breakout year would be 2001, when he won 17 games with an ERA 3.16. He became the first Timber Rattler to be selected to a Major League All Star Game. Mays pitched a perfect 5th inning (retiring Larry Walker, Mike Piazza, and Chipper Jones) for the American League in Safeco Field, the home of the team that had traded him away 4 years earlier. He has not been able to recapture the magic of that 2001 season though, as injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued the rest of his career. His record since '01 is 18-31, and he has not had an ERA under 5.00. He is currently pitching for the Las Vegas 51's, the Triple A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Previously on the countdown:
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