Andrew Triggs was a solid starting pitcher during his collegiate career at USC. He started in 50 of his 56 appearances for the Trojans during his four years there and finished with a 17-20 record and a 3.74 ERA.
The Royals, though, had different plans for Triggs after picking him in the 19th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. They converted him into a relief pitcher, and the Wilmington right-hander has been one of the Carolina League's top closers this season.
Triggs posted eight saves for the Blue Rocks through Monday's games, tying him for fourth overall in the Carolina League even though Wilmington has struggled to win during much of this season. He had a 5-3 record with a 2.70 ERA plus 60 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 56 2/3 innings, often relying on a very good sinker.
"[There's] great confidence for a manager to have someone like Andrew at the back end of close games," Wilmington skipper Vance Wilson said. "He brings incredible competitiveness with Major League stuff."
Triggs said he wasn't shocked when the Royals told him of their plans. He'd heard some people saying before the Draft that teams wanted him to pitch in relief -- and that's been just fine with him.
"I do have somewhat of an unorthodox delivery, and it wasn't much of a surprise," Triggs said. "I was just glad to have the opportunity."
He's got a delivery that can make it tough for batters to pick up the ball. Triggs throws from an arm slot that makes it almost look like the right-hander is slinging the ball toward the plate.
Triggs began his pro career last summer, adjusting to the bullpen as he pitched for rookie-level Idaho Falls and Class A Kane County. He finished with a 1-1 record and a 1.76 ERA overall with 51 strikeouts and 10 walks in 46 innings.
"[Relief pitching] is not all that different -- the only difference is really the preparation," Triggs said. "You show up with the mentality that you're going to throw every single day. It's fun, and pitching is pitching [whenever] it is."
Triggs understands making changes and bouncing back since he rebounded from Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him during his senior year of high school in Nashville. The recovery accidentally helped him become a USC pitcher.
Triggs pitched at a summer camp that former Major League hurler Tom House ran in San Diego, and a coach who was about to work at USC liked the righty and offered him a spot with the Trojans.
That started his college career, which led to where Triggs is now: one of the Carolina League's premier closers. He's looking forward to what he can do in the future, especially because he likes what being a closer feels like.
"There's sort of a heightened sense of awareness because the game's on the line," Triggs said. "Every pitch really does matter. I think you really are a little bit more locked in, pitch to pitch. There's a different approach."
Timing is everything: Erik Gonzalez came through at the right time for Indians affiliate Carolina on Sunday. His two-run triple in the top of the 10th inning broke a 2-2 tie, and he later scored to give the Mudcats a 5-2 victory over Potomac.
Hot streak: Lynchburg outfielder David Rohm has been on a roll recently. The Braves prospect had a .478 average (11-for-23) in his last six games through Monday with five RBIs, a double, a triple and three runs scored. For the season, Rohm is in the top 10 in the league in both hits and doubles.
Rally time: Myrtle Beach tied Thursday's game with Potomac thanks to a six-run ninth and then added one more in the 11th for a wild 7-6 victory. Potomac's bullpen fell apart with a 6-0 lead in the ninth, giving up two runs on walks, another on a hit batter and one more on a wild pitch before Pat Cantwell's game-tying two-run single. Brian Dupra's wild pitch in the 11th gave the Pelicans the victory.