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Les Walrond

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Leslie Dale Walrond

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[edit] Biographical Information

Les Walrond has pitched three seasons in the major leagues, thirteen in the minor leagues and two overseas.

Walrond was born in Oklahoma and went to Union High School there. His college was the University of Kansas.

Drafted in 1998 in the 13rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals, he debuted as a pro with the New Jersey Cardinals, going 2-4 with a 4.01 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 51 2/3 IP. In 1999, Les had a 7-10, 5.70 record for the Peoria Chiefs, posting the highest ERA of the club's starters.

In 2000, in the Single A Carolina League, he went 10-5 with a 3.34 ERA, striking out 153 batters in 151 innings for the Potomac Cannons. He led Cardinals farmhands in strikeouts. He was 6th in the circuit in ERA and 4th in strikeouts. The .667 winning percentage was even more impressive when you consider that his club finished last in the loop.

Walrond was stuck on an even worse club in 2001 when his New Haven Ravens lost the most games, 95, in the Eastern League, in 24 years. He thus finished only 2-8 despite a 3.87 ERA and .226 opponent batting average. In '02, he pitched for New Haven (2-1, 2.42, 31 K in 22 1/3 IP) and the Memphis Redbirds (8-7, 4.98), being moved to the bullpen late in the year after having spent his career as a starter. His 73 walks led S. Louis farmhands.

In 2003 he pitched for four different minor league teams in addition to being in the majors, and his minor league ERA's were all between 1.04 and 3.27. He began the year with the Redbirds (1.04, .193 opponent average in 10 games) and the Tennessee Smokies (2.70 in 4 games) in the Cards chain. Released in late May, he was quickly signed by the pitching-starved Kansas City Royals. He pitched for the Omaha Royals (3-1, 2 Sv, 2.45, .195 average allowed in 18 games) and the Wichita Wranglers (2-0, 3.27 in 2 games). Most notably, he pitched his first 7 major league games. He debuted on June 8 in an interleague game with the Rockies, relieving Jason Gilfillan in the 6th with a 7-6 deficit. His first batter was Justin Speier, who ground out to Angel Berroa. Other than a Jay Payton walk, his first inning was perfect. In the 7th, he allowed doubles to Chris Stynes and Charles Johnson to produce one run. He was relieved by Darrell May. Walrond was 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA for the 2003 Royals, walking 7 and allowing 11 hits (2 homers) in 8 innings.

In 2004, he spent most of the season with the Omaha Royals in the Triple A PCL, going 11-5 with a 3.06 ERA. Overall, he won 14 games to lead KC minor leaguers. He led the PCL in ERA, .09 ahead of runner-up Dennis Tankersley. He was left off the league All-Star team as the LHP chosen was Scott Downs, who also won Pitcher of the Year honors despite a worse record, ERA and strikeout rate than Walrond.

He was granted free agency after the season. For 2005, he was with the Florida Marlins' Albuquerque Isotopes team in the PCL until released in June. He had posted a 4.57 ERA and was 4-5. After his release, he signed with the LG Twins and went 4-10 with a save and a 5.04 ERA; the 2006 Baseball Almanac mistakenly identifies him as "Les Warrand" during this period.

In 2006, he signed with the Chicago Cubs. He was with the Iowa Cubs in the PCL, with a record of 10-5 and an ERA of 3.98. He went 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in 10 late-season games for the 2006 Cubs despite 21 Ks in 17 1/3 IP. He got his first MLB plate appearance, laying down a sacrifice bunt successfully against Jeff Weaver to set up a Roger Cedeno run. In his first at-bat, he struck out against Brett Myers.

Walrond had a 11-5, 4.77 record for Iowa in 2007. He led the club in wins and became the first Iowa hurler with back-to-back double-digit win seasons since Blaise Ilsley in 1993-1994. In 2008, Les was 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA in 7 games for Iowa, allowing 20 hits in 11 innings.

Walrond was released by Chicago and was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies, his fourth MLB organization. He was 5-8 for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but with a 3.32 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 111 innings. On July 6, he tossed a 2-hit shutout against the Louisville RiverBats, striking out 17. It was 7 more than he had ever whiffed in a game before in the minors. It was five shy of Bob Veale's International League record. He was called up late in the year and went 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA for the 2008 Phillies. On September 28, he got his first big league win, topping the Nationals in relief.

Walrond is only 1-4 with a 7.07 ERA after 23 MLB games, allowing 43 hits and 28 walks in 35 2/3 IP. He has struck out 39. In the minors through 2008, he is 81-68 with a 4.05 ERA.

Walrond signed with the Yokohama BayStars for 2009. He debuted on April 9, allowing 11 hits but only 3 runs in 5 1/3 IP in a loss to the Yomiuri Giants. He was 5-10 with a 4.80 ERA in 2009. He tied Shinobu Fukuhara for 8th in the Central League in losses and tied for 5th in walks (50).

He returned to Korea with the Doosan Bears in 2010. He went 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA, tying for 9th in the 2010 KBO in losses. Back in the US, he split 2011 between the Lancaster Barnstormers (1-0, 1.38, 15 K in 13 IP), Reading Phillies (4-1, 3 Sv, 2.08, 32 K in 30 1/3 IP) and Lehigh Valley (0-1, 1.23, 15 K in 14 2/3 IP), with a 1.71 ERA on the year. In 2012, he pitched for both Lancaster (3-1, 3.33 in 21 G) and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (4 R in 4 IP), giving him a career record of 102-94 in 410 games as a pro.

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