At the Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, you will find pitchers with Major League experience in their rotation such as Justin Masterson and Julio Urias. Despite all those big names, there is one pitcher that’s getting overlooked at Oklahoma City who is a strikeout machine.
Wilmer Font signed a minor league contract this winter with the Dodgers after spending the previous nine seasons of his career with the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays. It’s been a long road for Font, who underwent Tommy John surgery with the Texas Rangers back in 2010. This season, he is 5-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 13 starts.
Font has been one of the best strikeout pitchers in the Pacific Coast League. According to Baseball Reference, his 12.9 strikeouts per nine are the highest of any starting pitcher in the PCL. In his first 13 starts, he has 102 strikeouts, which is 20 more than any other pitcher in that league.
Back on May 15 against the Sacramento Rivercats, Font had one of the best starts of his professional career. The 27-year-old right-hander had a perfect game going after six innings and ended up striking out 15 batters in seven innings. That led him to being named the PCL player of the week.
When you watch a Font start, he isn’t going to throw a fastball at 100 miles per hour, but he is able to hit the corners consistently with his pitches and gets ahead of hitters frequently. Out of his 13 starts, he has eight starts of seven or more strikeouts and has given up three runs or fewer in 11 of them.
Font’s story is a surprising one. He has five career Major League appearances with the Rangers in 2012-13. Back in 2012, Baseball America said Font had the best fastball in the Rangers organization. In the past two seasons, he made 31 total appearances for Ottawa in the Canadian-American Association.
In addition to Font’s high strikeout numbers, he also doesn’t walk many hitters. Yes, baseball has become more of a home run or strikeout game, but Font has just 13 walks this season and has allowed five home runs in a hitter friendly league. But, the six home runs allowed are tied with Jair Jurrjens for the most on the team.
When you watch Font pitch, he has an arsenal of three different pitches. He won’t wow you with the fastball in terms of velocity, but he does rely heavily on that pitch. Also, he has a hard curveball and a changeup in his arsenal.
With the Dodgers current rotation depth at the Major League and Triple-A levels, Font isn’t likely to get a call-up anytime soon because he isn’t on their 40-man roster. However, his story is one that deserves a lot of recognition for the way he’s been able to strikeout hitters in a hitter-friendly league.