May 23, 1979 |
Long Beach, California
|June 18, 2002 for the Houston Astros|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 20, 2008 for the Oakland Athletics|
|Earned run average||5.02|
|Career highlights and awards|
Kirk Craig Saarloos (born May 23, 1979 in Long Beach, California) is a former right-handed Major League Baseball pitcher. He was on the 2011 Cal State Fullerton coaching staff as an undergraduate assistant coach. Saarloos returns to the school that propelled him to a seven-year major league career with Houston (2002–03), Oakland (2004–06, 08) and Cincinnati (2007). He will continue to work towards his bachelor's degree in communications at Cal State Fullerton. He became the Pitching Coach of Texas Christian University in the summer of 2012. He led the team to the lowest ERA in school history since 1968.
High school and college
Saarloos graduated from Valley Christian High School in Cerritos, California, a three-sport (baseball, football and soccer) athlete. He attended California State University, Fullerton where he established himself as one of the best closers in college baseball during his sophomore and junior seasons. In 2001, his senior year, he became a starter (the new closer was former Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero) and established himself as the ace of the staff, winning 15 games with a 2.18 ERA. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft in the third round as the 86th overall pick.
Saarloos quickly rose in the Astros organization, making brief stops at Double-A Round Rock and Triple-A New Orleans before being called up to the major leagues in his second year as a professional. In 2002 he went 6-7 with a 6.01 ERA with Houston and was sent down to New Orleans for the next season. In 2003 he again pitched very well in the minors, but posted a 4.93 ERA in 36 games for the big club. He also contributed to the Astros' six-pitcher no-hitter of the New York Yankees on June 11, throwing the last out of the third inning and all of the fourth. It was around this time he caught the eye of Oakland Athletics assistant general manager Paul DePodesta. A few weeks into the 2004 season, after appearing in only two games for New Orleans, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for Chad Harville. They sent him to Triple-A Sacramento, where he pitched well enough to receive a call-up and start 5 games for Oakland.
In 2005, with Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson traded away, the Athletics had openings in their rotation. Saarloos beat out Keiichi Yabu and Juan Cruz to win the last starter spot in the rotation. Saarloos succeeded, going 10-9 with a 4.17 ERA in 27 starts. He was widely considered to be among the best #5 starters in the American League, sporting one of the lowest home run rates.
With the signing of veteran starter Esteban Loaiza before the 2006 season, the A's bumped Saarloos to the bullpen. Soon after, Rich Harden got injured and Saarloos was put in as a fifth starter for a few games. He has also been be used in many varying relief roles, much like Justin Duchscherer was in 2005, but also as a spot starter. Shifting between the bullpen and the rotation, Saarloos finished with a record of 7-7 in 35 games for the A's. He allowed more home runs (19) than the previous season (11). On January 19, 2007, Saarloos signed a one-year $1.2 million deal with the Athletics.
On January 23, 2007, Saarloos was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for minor league reliever David Shafer. Both teams also received a player to be named later. On May 28, 2007, Saarloos was sent to the minors after failing to retire any of the seven batters he faced in a 14-10 loss to Pittsburgh the night before. In his lone season with the Reds, Saarloos had a 7.17 ERA in 42.2 innings. On October 12, 2007 the Saarloos was outrighted to the minor leagues. He refused the assignment and became a free agent.
On January 15, 2008, Saarloos signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Oakland Athletics. On April 14, he was added to the major league roster, but was designated for assignment on April 23. He was sent outright to Triple-A on April 25. On August 18, Saarloos was recalled. He became a free agent at the end of the season.
Saarloos signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Cleveland Indians in January 2009; after training camp, he was sent to Minor League camp on March 24, 2009.
He went 3-10 in 16 games at the AAA level. He retired after the 2009 season.
Saarloos has a variety of pitches, including a 4-seam fastball, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. However, his best pitch by far is his mid-to-high 80's sinker. For this reason, Saarloos is known predominately as a sinkerball specialist, and as such gets few strikeouts (batters tend to hit groundballs when faced with a sinker). In fact, his 2.99 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2005 ranked third to last in Major League Baseball, and was the lowest mark in Oakland Athletics history for a starting pitcher.
In 2011 Kirk joined Cal State Fullerton as a graduate assistant coach. Primary duties were as pitching coach. Opposing teams batted .250 against his pitchers and he coached Big West Pitcher of the Year, Dylan Floro, and four Freshmen All American pitchers.
Kirk returns to Cal State Fullerton as their full-time pitching coach and assisted in recruiting.
- "The Curious Case of Captain Kirk", Hardball Times
- The Associated Press (2009-01-14). "Indians sign pitchers Saarloos, Aquino". espn.com. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- Indians Send Sowers, 6 Others to Minors NY Times, March 24, 2009
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
June 11, 2003
(with Oswalt, Munro, Lidge, Dotel, & Wagner)