ROUND ROCK, Texas - Former RHP Kirk Saarloos, still the owner of one of the most successful individual single seasons in franchise history, has been selected for induction into the Round Rock Express Hall of Fame, the team announced on Tuesday morning. After deliberation by front office staff and shareholders,
ROUND ROCK, Texas - Former RHP Kirk Saarloos, still the owner of one of the most successful individual single seasons in franchise history, has been selected for induction into the Round Rock Express Hall of Fame, the team announced on Tuesday morning. After deliberation by front office staff and shareholders, Saarloos becomes the seventh member, including the second pitcher, to be selected for the team's prestigious Hall of Fame.
Although his time with the Express was brief, Saarloos left a lasting legacy on the team's record books. In 2002, the 22-year-old righty pitched to a 10-1 record with a 1.40 ERA (13 ER/83.1 IP) in 13 starts with the E-Train, striking out 82 while walking only 21. To this day, he still owns the lowest career ERA in Round Rock Express franchise history among pitchers who threw at least 50.0 innings with the club.
Across his 13 outings in 2002, Saarloos posted a jaw-dropping .828 WHIP while holding his opposition to a .168 batting average. His WHIP remains the best in franchise history, both for a single season and a career, while his career opponent batting average is surpassed only by Steve Randolph's .139 mark from 2007-2008.
Just months removed from a record-setting, four-year career at Cal State Fullerton, Saarloos began his professional career by going 1-1 with a miniscule 1.17 ERA (4 ER/30.2 IP) in 22 games with Class A Lexington after being drafted by the Houston Astros in the third round of the 2001 MLB Draft. He opened the 2002 season with the Double-A Express, where he faced brief adversary before turning up the heat.
In his first career Double-A start, Saarloos allowed nine earned runs in 4.0 innings against El Paso, recording the only losing decision of his time with Round Rock. Under the guidance of Pitching Coach Mike Maddux, Saarloos rebounded to post wins in 10 of his next 12 starts, limiting his opponents to just four earned runs across 79.1 total innings for a 0.45 ERA in that span.
After tossing six shutouts in his final 10 games with the Express, Saarloos was called up by the Houston Astros to make his major league debut on June 16, 2002. The rookie went on to make 17 starts with the Astros that season, winning a bevy of awards, including National League Rookie of the Month in July, Houston Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Texas League Pitcher of the Year and Round Rock Express Pitcher of the Year.
Saarloos pitched in 36 games with the Astros in 2003, finishing 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA (27 ER/49.1 IP) while racking up 43 strikeouts to only 17 walks. He was part of a six-pitcher no-hitter of the New York Yankees on June 11, hurling 1.1 innings of relief in what was the final no-hitter thrown at the original Yankee Stadium.
The Long Beach, California native was traded to the Oakland Athletics in 2004, where he went on to pitch in 70 games, including 48 starts, with the club over the next three seasons. He also pitched with the Cincinnati Reds prior to announcing his retirement as a player following the 2009 season. In total, Saarloos went 29-30 with a 5.02 ERA (284 ER/509.0 IP) in 165 career games, including 73 starts, across seven seasons at the major league level.
He returned to his alma mater to serve as Cal State Fullerton's Pitching Coach in 2011, where he helped lead the Titans to a pair of NCAA Regionals before accepting a job as the Pitching Coach at TCU prior to the start of the 2013 season. Under Saarloos' guidance, the Horned Frogs' pitching staff has posted the sixth-lowest ERA in college baseball since 2014 while appearing in the College World Series in four straight seasons from 2014-2017.
Saarloos will be formally inducted as the seventh member of the Round Rock Express Hall of Fame on Friday, July 17 prior to the team's 7:05 p.m. contest against the Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs affiliate).
The Express kick off the 2020 season on Thursday, April 9 against the newest member of the Pacific Coast League, the Wichita Wind Surge (Miami Marlins affiliate) at 7:05 p.m. at Dell Diamond. Single game tickets as well as full season and mini season membership plans are on sale now. For more information on the Express, visit RRExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!