Hoppers’ Stu Alexander “The Great” makes it to MILB.com

Posted by Andy Durham on August 12, 2008 at 8:58 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

We haven’t seen an outing like this one since Doyle Alexander joined the Detroit Tigers and people are still talking about Sunday’s game when pitcher Stu Alexander “The Great” was perfect through 19 batters for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Here’s a look at Alexander “The Great”, and what he’s done, from Danny Wild at milb.com.

A year ago, Stu Alexander was giving pitching lessons to local kids back home. On Sunday, the Marlins prospect provided a nearly perfect lesson for his former students.

Alexander took a perfect game into the seventh inning and pitched the Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 3-0 blanking of the Augusta GreenJackets at NewBridge Bank Park.

Out of baseball since 2006, the 23-year-old right-hander took another big step in his comeback with seven shutout innings.

“I felt good,” he said. “I was trying to pitch for as long as I could.”

Alexander was perfect until Nick Noonan lined a single to right field with one out in the seventh. He struck out three and allowed two hits over seven-plus innings to win his third straight decision.

“When you get through the seventh and eighth, that’s when it’s more of a big deal,” said Alexander, who faced one batter in the eighth. “But I didn’t think too much of it.”

The fact he was back on the mound, pain-free and in total control was the best news the Alexander family has heard in years. The California native underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in May 2005 and struggled to regain the control he demonstrated before signing with Florida out of high school.

Selected by the Marlins in the 29th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Alexander appeared in only 20 games between the Gulf Coast League and short-season Jamestown from 2004-07.

After losing feeling in his pitching hand in late 2006, he took a year off, away from the dugouts, bus rides and cramped Minor League clubhouses.

“I was pretty frustrated,” he said. “I thought maybe a year off would be a good idea. At one point, I thought that would be it for me.”

Things changed when his younger brother, Scott, was drafted by Cincinnati in 2007. The pair worked out together and shared advice.

“I threw with him a couple times, just to see where I was at,” Alexander said. “He was the one who got on me. He’d say, ‘Hey you look good out there.'”

Alexander continued to hover around the field, teaching kids how to pitch and helping his brother, who opted to play college ball at Pepperdine.

“I was giving pitching lessons and just staying in baseball,” he said. “I’d been trying [to come back] for awhile and my parents had been on me about it.”

Not so different from other 20-somethings pressured to find a job, Alexander called the Marlins. Just like that, he was back.

“The Marlins were awesome in letting me come back and prove I could still pitch,” he said. “It’s been a long road.”

That road nearly led to the history books Sunday when Alexander retired the first 19 batters he faced.

“It was more of a relief [when I gave up the hit],” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about how many innings I’d be able to go. My coach came out, gave me a breather. He said, ‘Take a breath, get back at it.'”

Alexander retired the side and got a hand from the crowd when he was pulled after allowing a second hit to Angel Villalona in the eighth.

“It was definitely one of my better outings,” he said. “I’ve had a couple a good starts, it’s kind of up-and-down this year. Today, I got to throw all my pitches for strikes. I kept the hitters off-balance. We had a strong wind, so I was just trying to get ground balls. I kept the ball low.”

It was easily the best performance of the season for Alexander, who last threw seven innings on June 9 against Lexington. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his last 11 starts and has not lost since July 3.

Mike Stanton’s two-out homer, his South Atlantic League-leading 30th, in the first gave Alexander the only run he needed. Brian Schultz tacked on a two-run double in the fourth.

Andrew Battisto and Nick McCurdy each pitched an inning and struck out two to close it out for the Grasshoppers (18-31).

Chance Corgan (3-5) allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings for first-place Augusta (31-17), which was denied a sweep of the four-game series.
*****from Danny Wild at milb.com*****


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