Jan 14, 2016

Former Mets First Round Draft Pick (2002): Scott Kazmir

Scott Edward Kazmir was born January 24, 1984 in Houston, Texas. He was a star quarterback & pitcher in high school, who once tossed four straight no hitters. He verbally committed to his home state Texas Longhorns college football team, but instead went with baseball.

He was chosen by the New York Mets in 2002 as a first round draft pick (#15 overall). The left handed Kazmir began with the Brooklyn Cyclones at A ball in 2002, pitching in five games (0-1) with a 0.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched.

In 2003 he struck out 145 batters in 109 innings pitched at A ball St. Lucie & Capital City. He was highly touted by the time he got to AA Montgomery, rated as the #7 prospect in the country by Baseball America in 2004. That year he struck out 104 batters in 101 innings pitched between A & AA ball.

On July 30th 2004 the New York Mets made an unpopular trade that sent Kazmir to the Tampa Rays in exchange for Victor Zambrano & Bartlome Fortunato. The trade was highly criticized at the time & still is by the Met fans & New York media. The trade led to GM Jim Duquett's demotion within the organization, he had taken over after the dismissal of Steve Phillips. Kazmir went on to success & Zambrano went on to fail miserably in New York.

Kazmir made his debut in August of 2004 in Seattle pitching five scoreless innings against the Mariners earning his first career victory. He went 2-3 the rest of the way coming back in 2005 to go 10-9 leading the league in walks (100) posting a 3.77 ERA.

In 2006 he was the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher (22 years old) since Dwight Gooden took the mound for the 1986 Mets. That season Kazmir made his first All Star team, throwing a perfect sixth inning, retiring Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Beltran, and Albert Pujols at the All Star game in Pittsburgh. At that point he was 10-6 with a 3.27 ERA. After the break he limited to just five starts due to injuries, finishing the year at 10-8 & a 3.24 ERA.

In 2007 Kazmir had his best season going 13-9, while leading the AL in strikeouts (239) averaging over ten strike outs per nine innings. He also led the league in starts (34) pitching 206 innings, posting a 3.48 ERA which was ninth best in the league. That year Tampa finished a lowly fifth but things were quickly turning around.

The following season in 2008, the Rays surprised everyone, going all the way to the World Series. In Spring Training Kazmir strained his elbow, delaying the start of his season until May 4th. After taking a loss that day, he went on to six straight victories. By the All Star break he was 7-5 with a good 3.04 ERA, as he made the All Star team. He earned the victory for the AL after pitching a scoreless 15th inning in the 4-3 win. A good second half had him finish the year at 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA.

Post Season: In the ALDS he got the win in Game #2 at Tampa, beating the Chicago White Sox 6-2. In the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, he allowed five runs in just four innings in Game #2 at Tampa. He earned no decision as the Rays won in extra innings. He returned to throw six shutout innings in Game #5, but the Rays lost the game 8-7 at Fenway Park.

In the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Kazmir lost the opener 3-2 at Tropicana Field, after allowing two runs in the first inning.

The next season, after going 8-7 through the end of August, he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for two minor leaguers. He went 2-2 the rest of the way, getting into another post season.

Post Season: In the ALDS win over the Red Sox he gave up five runs in Game#3 but earned no decision, as the Angels went on to a 7-6 win.
In the ALCS, he was roughed up for four runs in four innings of Game #4 taking the loss. He appeared in relief in Game #6, pitching 0.2 of an inning.

He continued to have arm issues & was losing velocity on his fastball. He was also problems with his mechanics & was known to throw a lot of pitches, which didn't help.

In 2010 he was 9-15 (second in the AL in losses) walking 79 batters (6th in the AL) posting one of the worst ERA’s among starters at 5.94. In 2011 things got worse, as he only appeared in one game at the major league level. At AAA Salt Lake, he was 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA in just 15 innings in five games. It seems as though the once promising career was in jeopardy of being over before age 30.

In 2012 he had no MLB team interested in him, and he pitched in the Atlantic Independent League, for the Sugar Lake Skeeters. There he was noticed by the Cleveland Indians even though he pitched mediocre at best. He got an invitation to Spring Training & through hard work won himself a roster spot. Just before Opening Day he got injured & missed the first three weeks of the season.

On April 20th he debuted against the Houston Astros & gave up six runs over three innings. On May 4th he earned his first win in almost three years as he beat the Minnesota Twins, pitching a solid six innings. He went .500 through August going 7-7, making a good comeback. As the Indians chased a wild card spot in September, Kazmir went 3-2 winning his last two starts. The Indians won 92 games (92-70) but lost the Wild Card game 4-0 to the Tampa Rays.

Kazmir ended the year at 10-9 with 162 strike outs & 47 walks in 158 innings pitched in 29 games, posting a 4.04 ERA.
In the off season he signed a deal to pitch for the Oakland Athletics in 2014.

In 2014 Kazmir became one of the A's top pitchers as he led the team in wins, going 15-9. His 15 wins were 8th best in the AL. He started out the year at 4-0 & by mid season was 11- with a 2.38 ERA. He was rewarded by making his third All Star team. He pitched two complete games (6th in the AL) made 32 starts while posting a 3.55 ERA, striking out 164 batters walking 50 in 190 innings pitched.

In 2015 he would go 5-5 with Oakland before getting traded to Houston Astros for two minor leaguers during their pennant race run. Kazmir would go 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA for the Wild Card Champion Astros.


Post Season: On October 9th, Kazmir got the start in Game #2 of the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals in KC. He pitched into the sixth inning, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out four while walking one. The Astros went on to a 5-4 loss.

In the off season he was signed by the Los Angles Dodgers for 2016.

 In an eleven year career he is 98-90 with a 3.96 ERA. He has 1474 strike outs with 629 walks in 1553 innings of work in 272 appearances.

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