BY RALPH MORROW
Key West grad Blayne Weller, after starting the baseball season as a relief pitcher, has of late been strictly a starting pitcher. On the Fourth of July, he started his ninth game in a row for the South Bend Silver Hawks and picked up his fourth victory against four losses, a 6-2 triumph over Class A Midwest League opponent Lake County.
After giving up a home run with a runner on base in the first inning, the 6-5 righthanded pitcher set down the Silver Hawks without any more damage through six innings, allowing but four hits and a walk while striking out nine before 7,169 fans at the Indiana ball park.
Weller was drafted by the Minnesota Twins after KWHS’s 2008 season, but now pitches in the Arizona Diamondback system. He has 79 strikeouts against only 27 walks in 73 innings, while having a 4.52 earned run average.
The word is not as encouraging for the other two Key West professional baseball products.
After picking up a hit in his third game in a row on June 26, switch-hitting catcher Ralphie Henriquez was placed on the seven-day disabled list by Class AA Eastern League Altoona.
Henriquez, who had a horrible start at bat in the season, was coming around, jumping his batting average to .120. On June 22, he collected his first home run of the season.
Henriquez was drafted in 2005 by Houston, but is now in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.
Unlike the other two, Bronson Arroyo did not play high school baseball in Key West, although, like them, he was born in the Southernmost city.
Now, the righthander’s season for Arizona is finished as he faces surgery and probably won’t return to the Arizona lineup until late next season.
According to the Associated Press, he continued pitching through a sore arm, but was eventually placed on the disabled list. When an MRI revealed a ligament in his right elbow had torn way from the bone, it was determined to do Tommy John surgery.
The 37-year-old was signed by the Diamondbacks during the off-season ($23.5 million for two years) after hurling for eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. This was his first trip to the DL after making 369 consecutive starts during 15 seasons with the D-backs, Reds, Boston and Pittsburgh. He had won 7, lost 4, with an ERA of 4.08 this season. For his 15-year Major League career, Arroyo, who graduated from Hernando High School in Brookville, has won 145, lost 131, with an ERA of 4.19.
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