Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Webster Groves' Arrandale a Major Success in Minors

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Webster Groves' Arrandale a Major Success in Minors

Article excerpt

Even pitchers such as Greg Maddux, Jimmy Key, David Cone and Doug Drabek can only dream of carrying numbers as eye-catching as Matt Arrandale's.

They sound almost unbelievable.

No one who gets paid to pitch for a living has a 14-0 record on June 25. Arrandale does.

No one makes it through almost 107 innings on the mounds of the South Atlantic League and still boasts of an earned-run average of 1.35. Arrandale does.

"Half the year has passed, and he's still doing it," said Luis Melendez, Arrandale's manager with the Savannah (Ga.) Cardinals. "You have to see him pitch to believe it.

"The only way to beat him is to hit him, because he's not going to walk you. And teams can't hit him. He pitched eight innings for us Thursday night and struck out 13 guys. He gave up only three hits.

"He's been outstanding the whole way."

Arrandale, a native of Webster Groves, left with a shutout going Thursday; Savannah ended up with a 4-1 victory over Greensboro, N.C. It strengthened Arrandale's hold as the winningest pitcher in all of pro baseball and lowered his baseball-best ERA closer to Bob Gibson-like territory.

Quite a half-season for anyone, much less a pitcher who didn't throw hard enough in the minds of most big-league scouts. That helped explain why the Cardinals were able to draft him in the 35th round last year.

Arrandale has no explanations. He just keeps pitching.

"It's exciting," he said. "I don't really realize how impressive it all is until I take a step back and look at it, though. It's not staggering to me because I'm just doing my job.

"That's the best thing. Those numbers don't lie as far as I'm concerned. I feel like I'm pitching very well."

So why is Arrandale still with Class A Savannah?

"That's what everybody is asking me," Melendez said. "The Cardinals have to find room for him in St. Petersburg or in Double-A with Arkansas. Right now, if he pitched this way in St. Pete, he should do well. But they might leave him here and let him win 20 games. And 20 wins is 20 wins, no matter where you're pitching."

Arrandale grew up wanting to play baseball in the big leagues. He lived a block from Blackburn Park in Webster and spent much of his youth playing catch there with his father, Bob Arrandale.

"We played a lot of catch," Bob Arrandale said. "He always had a strong arm. He was gifted with a natural motion. I think athletes have something they are born with, and Matt just always could throw smooth."

For father and son, baseball proved a passion they enjoyed together.

"I remember going to the ballpark to watch the Cardinals with my dad; that was a big event," Matt Arrandale said. "We watched baseball on TV together, too. That's before baseball was on TV as often as it is now, so it was a big deal to do that, too."

Melendez said he is most impressed by Arrandale's composure on the mound. …

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