By Bob Behre
Kevin Herget, a right-handed pitcher from Park Ridge and Kean University, has succeeded at every level of minor league ball during a six-season run that has seen nothing but steady improvement.
Herget put a cherry on top of the sundae that has been his minor league career when he picked up the win in the Memphis Redbirds’ 14-4 victory over the Durham Bulls in the Triple-A championship game on Sept. 18.
Herget limited Durham, the Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate, to two runs on five hits over 5.1 innings while striking out four and walking none in an impressive 76-pitch effort. The 39th round draft pick in 2013 left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 10-2 lead.
The Triple-A championship game pits the International League vs. the Pacific Coast League. The game was played at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. Memphis, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate, represents the Pacific Coast League and the Bulls hail from the International League.
Herget opened his minor league career in the summer of 2013 with an 7-0 record and a 2.89 ERA for the State College Spikes of the Short Season New York Penn League. Eight of his 14 appearances that summer were as a starter. But Hegert was converted to the bullpen the next season and had only two more starts to his name through 2016.
Herget’s career, however, began circling back to the beginning of games after his promotion in 2017 from the Double-A Springfield Cardinals to Triple-A Memphis. The 5-10, 185-pounder went 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA for Memphis in 35 games last summer, nine of those games were starts and he totaled 81.2 innings. Memphis would commit Herget to its starting rotation in 2018.
Despite what may be viewed as a pedestrian 10-11 record and a 4.56 ERA, Herget’s huge win in Memphis’ championship game continued a pattern that had turned heads in the organization the previous summer when Herget proved resilient and dominant when Memphis needed it most.
He struck out 15 El Paso batters and pitched eight scoreless innings in the second game of the Pacific Coast League championship series in 2017. Memphis won the game, 2-0 in extra innings, to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-5 series it would later win. Herget allowed just four hits, walked one and threw 80 strikes among his 107 pitches against El Paso.
Herget remains a breath away from a call-up to the St. Louis Cardinals and has showcased high levels of success as both a reliever and a starter. At every level of the minor leagues, his strikeout-to-walk ration has been at or near 4-to-1.
We remind you, Herget is a 39th round pick out of Division 3 Kean University. If anything at this point in his minor league career, the gritty righthander is an example to all young players who may doubt their own ability or who have heard doubts from others. Herget has succeeded on his own belief, hard work and a desire to play among the best in the game.
Herget boasts a 39-20 career record with a 3.38 ERA. He’s pitched in 210 minor league games, amassing 487 innings. His 467 strikeouts and 126 walks reveal a pitcher who is attacking the strike zone. He also has 32 career saves.
We can’t wait until next season to see the Jersey boy improve further.