* LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) is 3-0 this season beating No. 5 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys, the top-ranked TCU Horned Frogs and the Gonzaga Stags in his three starts this season. The Ontario Prospects grad, who played for coaches Rich and Rob Butler, had had 22 career wins.
By Bob Elliott
PHOENIX _ It’s light years from Hermitage Park in Pickering to the third row of Municipal Stadium in Arizona, yet that is where Whitby’s Ryan Kelloggsits on this night.
His 18th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils had thumped the Purdue Boiler Makers 15-5 when he’s asked to look at the names on the two giant gold and maroon boards in left centre.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder is the first Sun Devil to lead the NCAA powerhouse in wins in consecutive seasons since Ken Jones, Sterling Slaughter, Craig Swan and Floyd Bannister, who pitched in the 1960s and 1970s. Jones was the only one who did not pitch in the majors with careers lasting from anywhere to one (Slaughter) season, to 12 (Swan) to 15 seasons (Bannister).
“Barry Bonds has thrown out the first pitch, Paul Lo Duca has been here, Jake Barnett from the Diamondbacks threw the first pitch tonight,” said Kellogg, who beat the Gonzaga Stags the next day 5-2 for his third win in as many starts.
“Dustin Pedroia spoke to us on alumni day, how you should never take a play off, how you never know when a scout is watching,” Kellogg said.
Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson (44) went to ASU and his name on the big gold wall of fame, along with Bob Horner (5), Rick Monday (27), Mike Kelly (24), Eddie Bane (21), Larry Gura (12), Alvin Davis (9), Hubie Brooks (7), Oddibe McDowell (0), coach Bobby Winkles (1), Sal Bando (6), Alan Bannister (7), Kevin Romine (12), Floyd Bannister (19), Lo Duca (16) and Bonds (24).
Long before Kellogg (49) gets his name on one of those boards in refurbished Muni Stadium, in the picturesque Papago Mountains, the 2015 draft goes June 8-10. Kellogg estimates he met with scouts from 20 teams in fall, including Pete Holmes, the Blue Jays Arizona area scout. Toronto drafted Kellogg in the 12th round three years ago.
Kellogg headed into this spring ranked 65th on the Perfect Game Scouting Service top 100 college prospects and 129th on Perfect Game’s top 250 combined high school/college list. He should go in the first five rounds, but all it takes it one team and he uses the left arm. Southpaws are always a priority.
His fastball was clocked at 87-92 MPH pitching for the Bourne Braves on Cape Cod last summer. Many scouts value what they see on the Cape for its better competition than conference play.
“I’ve been 89-91, sometimes 92 MPH,” said Kellogg. “But there’s more in there. I throw harder than that playing catch on flat ground, but coach (Tracy Smith) wants strikes.”
Hired from Indiana, Smith is in his first year with the Sun Devils. Kellogg says he enjoys Smith’s “leadership style … he’ fiery, yet calm, cool and collected.” The new coach brought his staff with him, including assistant coach Fred Nori and pitching coach Brandon Higelin.
“I have better command, my curve has improved but my slider needs some work,” said Kellogg. “We’re working on my arm swing with that pitch.”
Kellogg allowed a homer to Gonzaga’s Mitchell Gonsolus on the first pitch on Saturday. He gave up one other run, pitching eight innings, striking out four to move to 3-0.
In less than three seasons he has 22 wins and counting, eighth most by a Canadian at an NCAA school since 2000, however, all other starters pitched four full seasons. Steven Carter(Windsor, Ont.) went 42-12 for Coastal Carolina.
Kellogg had made 19 quality starter in his 33 career outings and is one of five Sun Devils in the past five seasons to earn repeat First Team All-Conference honors, joining Joey DeMichele (2011-12), Deven Marrero (2011-12), Riccio Torrez (2010-11) and Mitchell Lambson (2009-10).
Not bad for a guy who arrived with Rich and Rob Butler’s 12U Ontario Prospects as a left-handed catcher.
“I still love to catch, I caught Brian Serven when he threw a bullpen on the Cape and I have a left-handed catcher’s mitt in my bag,” said Kellogg, “but I haven’t seen any left-handed catchers in the Pac-12.
“I showed and the Butlers said ‘you’re tall, you’re left-handed … maybe you should pitch.’”
And pitch he has — including 8 2/3 scoreless against Team USA for Canada in a 1-0 win at the World Juniors in Korea. Of his 22 career wins, Kellogg has nine against ranked teams. The most impressive?
“We’ve played a few teams, there are so many polls,” he says forgetting to mention he handed No. 1-ranked TCU Horned Frogs their first loss last month.
He doesn’t change things facing a highly-ranked team saying why over-complicate things?
“It’s still 60 feet, six inches,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg had a perfect 4.0 GPA this past semester. He switched from the engineering program to business management and now has a 3.26 GPA.
His mom, Sandy Kellogg is a product design specialist for a municipal property assessment corporation, while pop Bruce Kellogg is a catering manager at the Metro Convention Centre. He has an older sister, Kaitlin, 25, who works at McMaster University in Hamilton.
How does he enjoy Municipal Stadium after leaving Packard Stadium on the ASU campus?
“The fences are farther, but the ball travels better — we’re using a new ball with smaller seams, it’s closer to a ball they use in the minors,” said Kellogg. “We used to get Pakard hops. Hit the ball hard in front of the plate and it would wind up in life field. Like Hermitage Park.”
Right-hander Eic Melbostad of Scottsdale and Kellogg roomed together their first year at ASU’s Palo Verde Est dorm and when it came time to move out the pair moved in with Friday night starter, lefty Brett Lilek of South Holland, Ill. and closer Ryan Burr of Highland Ranch, Col. who set the school saves record earlier this spring.
Around Muni Stadium are gold and maroon boards with numbers of the program’s success (alumni in the majors, number of championships and first-round picks). One board reads:
400 – Major League Baseball Draft Picks
Kellogg should add to that total.
Top NCAA Division I Canadian pitcher by wins
Steve Carter, Windsor, Ont., 42-12, 3.74, Coastal Carolina, 2001-04
Shane Davis, Belmont, Ont., 35-12, 4.18, Canisius, 2008-11
Rob Nixon, Welland, Ont. 28-9, 2.61 Adelphi, 2008-11
Kai Tuomi, Sault, Ste. Marie, Ont., 24-10, 3.89 Evansville, 2004-07
Jordan Thomson, Toronto, 24-16, 4.18 Northeastern, 2001-04
Josh Sawatzky, Altoona, Man. 24-17, 3.99 Niagara/Canisius, 2004-08
Ali Simpson, Campbell RIver, BC, 23-17, 4.76 Bethune-Cookman 2009-2013
Ryan Kellogg,Whitby, Ont. 22-4 3.53 Arizona State 2013-15
R.J. Swindle, Vancouver, 21-13, 3.13, Charleston Southern 2002-04
Kris Dabrowiecki, Toronto, 21-13, 4.22 Northeastern, 2005-08
Andrew Albers, North Battleford, Sask. 20-18, 4.48, Kentucky 2005-08
Jason Mandryk, Langdon, Ont., 18-6, 3.41 East Carolina, 1999-2002
Scott Robinson, Ajax, Ont., 18-6, 4.68, Maine, 2002-06
Devon Stewart, Maple Ridge, B.C. 18-17, 4.61 Canisius, 2012-15
John Axford, Port Dover, Ont. 17-14 4.67 Notre Dame, Canisius, 2002-06
Chris Howay, New Westminster, B.C. 17-7, 4.13 McNeese State, 2000-01