Back in 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a move that a lot of people looked at as a publicity stunt. They signed Indian winners of the “Million Dollar Arm” contest Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel to contracts to play baseball with the Pirates. These two had very little knowledge of baseball and knew nothing about the art of pitching. However, they had live arms that the Pirates thought could help their organization.
So the two set off to start their new lives with the Pirates in 2009. They pitched at the Gulf Coast Level and began learning the trade. Neither of them did much work in games in that first year, pitching just 18.2 innings combined. In 2010, Singh separated himself from Dinesh and Patel was eventually cut after the 2010 season after posting an 8.59 ERA in 7.1 innings. That didn’t stop Rinku from pressing forth towards the big leagues, and he has been very impressive ever since.
In 2010, Rinku posted a 2.38 ERA in 22.2 innings. He struck out 21 batters in those innings and walked just 8. It was a very, very encouraging and surprising sign. However, not many people thought he would go much further than that. Singh was out to prove the doubters wrong once again, as he had another successful season in 2011 moving up as far as West Virginia. He played in four different leagues in 2011 and collectively pitched 40.1 innings, posting a 2.45 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 11 walks. His ability to throw strikes and locate was just phenomenal. If there was one thing you would have bet on this guy struggling with it was control, and he has had no trouble at all with it.
That 2011 season earned him an opening day spot on the West Virginia Power roster in 2012. Thus far he has pitched 37.1 innings as he is set to blow past his career high in innings. The results have been positive once again. 29 strikeouts, 7 walks, and a 2.41 ERA. He’s given up his share of hits as well (42 in 37.1) innings, but has kept the ERA down – which shows maturity in pitching from the stretch and in high leverage situations.
You could not ask for more from Singh. Nobody thought he would last more than a year or two in the system. Major League teams don’t just bring in guys that have never played baseball before, but the Pirates did it, and so far they have been rewarded. Obviously there is a long way to go here, but he’s already come farther than anybody would have expected. If he could pitch so much as an inning in the major leagues, it would be one of the biggest and most surprising stories in recent history.
Keep an eye on Singh, it’s one hell of a story.