I’ll keep updating this blog as information blows in from Lancaster, but Oakdale High graduate Nick Vander Tuig is making his professional debut tonight in the uniform of the San Jose Giants.
Vander Tuig, who was last seen winning a College World Series title with UCLA, was drafted in the sixth round by San Francisco and got a signing bonus of $218,000.
Vander Tuig went 14-4 with a 2.16 ERA for the Bruins this season, throwing 129 innings in 19 starts. Because of his workload already this year, which included eight shutout innings in the Series-clinching 8-0 victory over Mississippi State on June 25, Vander Tuig will be on a very tight pitch count.
We’re trying to find out the last time a San Francisco pitcher made his professional debut at the High A level.
We know that the last San Francisco pitcher to reach the High-A level in the same year he was drafted was Tim Lincecum in 2006. Lincecum made his pro debut that year with two appearances at rookie league Salem-Keizer after being drafted out of the University of Washington.
Vander Tuig got an inning of work on Friday in an Arizona Rookie League contest, but for the purposes of record keeping that’s not considered game action.
If you’re looking ahead, San Jose visits John Thurman Field once more this season, for games Aug. 13-15. You might have better luck catching a Vander Tuig start in Stockton, a place San Jose visits this weekend (Fri-Sun,) and again Aug. 20-22.
As an aside, Ryan Vogelsong will made a rehab start for San Jose on Friday in Stockton, which is supposed to be the first of his two rehab starts before he returns to the San Francisco roster. He is slated to throw 40-45 pitches at Stockton Ballpark.
Update (7:50 p.m.) - Vander Tuig pitched a scoreless first inning with a walk and a strikeout, then gave up two runs in the second on a double and the 10th homer of the season of Tyler Heineman, who for a time was Vander Tuig's batterymate at UCLA. Lancaster leads San Jose 2-1 in the 3rd inning.
Final Update (9:05 p.m.) Vander Tuig pitched 2 1/3 innings for the Giants, allowing three runs on four hits, with a walk and three strikeouts. He will not be involved in the decision in a game Lancaster leads 6-4 in the 7th inning.
It appears to be a case of organizational dominoes that cleared the way for Vander Tuig to make a spot appearance in San Jose. When Eric Surkamp was promoted from Triple-A Fresno to San Francisco to make the start in the first game of the Giants' doubleheader on Tuesday against Cincinnati, it left a void in the Fresno rotation. So to take that start with Fresno, San Francisco promoted Adalberto Mejia from San Jose, leaving a void in San Jose's rotation that Vander Tuig filled.
With Surkamp likely headed back to Fresno, especially with Vogelsong ready to return to the big club within two weeks, it might be unlikely that Vander Tuig remains at the High-A level when the dominoes fall in the other direction. More likely will be a return to Arizona, where the Giants can watch him in limited action every five days, start to work on tweaking his mechanics and putting him on a program to have him ready to be a starting pitcher at the start of the 2014 season.
And if all of that goes well, perhaps Vander Tuig will be with San Jose for its first trip into John Thurman Field next year ... April 28-May 1.