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Buffalo's 18-Year MLB Drought Is Over: Angels Call Up Steven Geltz

I always love these stories. Steven Geltz, a 5'10" right-handed pitcher who began the year in Double-A, was called up to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim big league team, marking the first time that a Buffalo Bulls baseball player touched an MLB roster since Joe Hesketh pitched for the Boston Red Sox on August 7, 1994, five days before MLB had its players strike, and Hesketh retired that offseason. So it's been 18 years and four days.

Geltz is going to be a reliever for the Angels, and his first appearance could be any day now. Sure, Buffalo's not a baseball powerhouse (and the big league drought reflects that), and this may change now that — in a year Kent State became a national feel-good story, UB catcher Tom Murphy was the highest MAC draft pick this year. But Geltz didn't make much noise even when he played for the MAC. He was their closer from 2006-08, when the Bulls went 45-110. By comparison, those awful 2003 Detroit Tigers set an American League record with a 43-119.

Geltz's year-by-year Buffalo numbers:

2006 22 4 6.17 1.62 46 2/3 11.0 5
2007 20 1 5.31 1.69 39 9.9 5
2008 14 0 1.69 1.22 21 1/3 12.7 6

For the first two years, most of those numbers were pretty dismal except for strikeouts per nine. He always had that, and that's usually velocity. Something obviously clicked in his senior year to cut down the number of baserunners, and the ERA showed it. Still, he earned no All-MAC honors nor did anyone draft him.

However he signed a minor-league contract with the Angels and began there. Here are his minor league stats. Again, lots of hits, but always lots of strikeouts, and a career 12.1 K/9 is just awesome even though he hasn't been used as a closer very much.

This is doubly exciting because it's not just some team; the Angels are thick in the middle of a division race with the Texas Rangers. I don't know how long Geltz will stay up, if much, but at just 24 years old he looks like a decent prospect who can make some bucks trying to strike out right-handed power hitters.