Has another vulture emerged? It is not the same way Phil Regan used to do it, but in the Rancho Cucumonga Quakes first 8 games, Alex Hermeling has a 3-0 record with all three wins coming in relief. A lot of attention has been directed to Mitchell White and Walker Buehler, and deservedly so. But on April 7, it was Alex Hermeling that pitched the final three innings in the RC no-hitter with Mitch White. On April 10, it was Alex Hermeling who came in to relieve Walker Buehler after his 3 outstanding innings. And on April 13, it was Alex Hermeling that came in to relieve Caleb Ferguson and get the win. In his three games, Hermeling has 8 IP, 0 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, and 5 Ks. He has been outstanding.
But who is Alex Hermeling? After his senior year in high school in 2011, Hermeling was drafted in the 43rd round by the Dodgers. He chose not to sign with the Dodgers but instead signed to pitch for Louisiana-Monroe. It was his only scholarship offer, but more importantly to Alex was that Louisiana-Monroe had a very good aviation program. Hermeling had a pilot’s license, and quickly acquired the nickname Maverick, even though there is no resemblance to Tom Cruise. His favorite movie is Top Gun and his walk-out music in college was Danger Zone.
After his freshman season, Hermeling needed TJ surgery and sat out the entire 2013 season. He returned to pitch his academic junior and senior seasons, but was not drafted either year. In his final season at Louisiana-Monroe, he finished with a 4.14 ERA in 14 starts. He allowed 86 hits, walked 35 batters and hit 12 in 87 innings. But Alex was not ready to quit the game he loved, and with one year of eligibility remaining signed with Ohio State.
To get ready for his one year with Ohio State, Hermeling decided to pitch for the Battle Creek Bombers, a Northwoods League team in a summer College league (a step down from the prestigious Cape Cod summer league). The Bombers had a pitching coach, Matt Read, who liked Hermeling a lot and thought that he could pitch professionally. Read tweaked Hermeling’s mechanics by suggesting he adjust the location of his hands to improve his command. In nine appearances in the Northwoods League— eight starts — he had an ERA of 1.17 in 53 2/3 innings, striking out 52 and allowing 33 hits and 12 walks. He pitched in the Northwoods League All-Star Game that year. The more he pitched, the more consistent he got. Suddenly he caught the attention of the professional scouts. The Dodgers remembered him from 2011, made him an offer, and on July 17, 2015 Hermeling signed as an undrafted free agent with the LA Dodgers. Hermeling spent the remainder of the 2015 season on the 60 Day DL.
On April 3, 2016, Hermeling was assigned to Great Lakes. While his stats were not overwhelming… 2-4, 3.83 ERA, 54 IP, 47 H, 22 BB, 58K, and 1 HR allowed…on August 5, he earned a promotion to Rancho where he finished the 2016 season. In 2017, Alex is beginning in the same league but with far better results. With the value of relief pitching increasing, Alex is undoubtedly on Gabe Kapler’s radar.
So back to his pilot days at Louisiana Monroe. There was a pretty cool story he relayed. “I was a weekend pitcher, so I didn’t have to travel to the midweek games,” Hermeling said. “I was throwing with another weekend pitcher when the team left for a game. We started talking about going to the game, and he said he would have liked to have gone. “So I said ‘let’s go.’ He couldn’t figure out how. But the school had planes for their program, and one was available. So we flew about 100 miles to the game at Northwestern State. We circled the stadium. Our teammates were warming up. We called them and told them we’d be there. They all stopped warming up and started waving to us.
“It was pretty cool.”
If baseball does not work out and his vulture days end, Hermeling should have a career as a commercial airline pilot, like his uncle who flew for United before retiring at the mandatory age.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
OKC BOX – Won 8-4; 4th consecutive win. Julio Urias went 4.2 IP with 4 hits, 2 BB’s, 4 K’s and 1 ER. Verdugo had a 3 hit day and is now batting .394 and 1.065 OPS. Bellinger and Segedin each with two hits. Bellinger is now batting .391 with a 1.093 OPS. Segedin’s BA is now north of .300 Calhoun is still struggling.
TULSA BOX – Won 6-3. Colt Hynes pitched 3.1 innings to pick up the win, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 earned run. Yaisel Sierra pitched a perfect 9th for his 1st save. Edwin Rios had a 3 hit day including 2 doubles and is now batting .361. Paul Hoenecke had a two hit day, and Farmer continued his strong start with another hit, and is batting .360.
RC BOX – Won 5-3 The highlight was Walker Buehler and 3 IP, no runs, 1 hit, no walks, and 8 strikeouts. Buehler and White should be in Tulsa by June. Spitzbarth had another quality inning in relief and picked up the win. Wes Helsabeck pitched 2 innings, allowing 1 H, 0 R, no BB, and 6 K. That was a 20 K performance for four RC pitchers. Drew Jackson, Yusniel Diaz, and Luke Raley led the offense with 2 hits each. After starting 1 for 15, Diaz is now 9 for his last 16 and is now batting .353
GL BOX – Won 7-1. A. J. Alexy started and went 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, and 5 K. William Soto, Lenix Osuna, and Jose Santos followed in relief with a combined 6.1 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 6K. Brendon Davis and Mitchell Hansen each had three hits and were supported by 2 hits apiece by Zach McKinstry and Carlos Rincon including each with a HR (1st and 5th respectively). Davis is now batting .444, Rincon .367, and McKinstry .333
Including the major league team, Jackie Robinson Day was perfect for the Dodgers and their four affiliates.