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Troy Cate

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Troy Patrick Cate

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Troy Cate was the hardest pitcher to hit in Organized Baseball in 2006. The next year, he made his major league debut.

Cate set the Ricks Junior College school record for strikeouts and went 8-2 with 3 shutouts and a 2.35 ERA his last year. The Seattle Mariners took him in the 6th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He was 6-1 with a 2.00 ERA, .203 opponent average and 95 K: 11 BB in 85 IP for the Everett AquaSox that summer. He was six strikeouts behind Northwest League leader Andrew Sisco to finish second in the league and also was second in ERA behind Greg Bruso. He threw the only complete game shutout in the NWL that year, taking just one hour and 57 minutes to do so on September 3. Cate failed to make the league All-Star team as Sisco and Jared Doyle were chosen as the top southpaws. Baseball America ranked him as the #15 prospect in the league, between Jon Nelson and Ricky Nolasco.

Cate tied Ryan Ketchner for the most strikeouts in the Mariners chain in 2003. He went 9-11 with a 4.11 ERA for the Inland Empire 66ers, but his 153 strikeouts were second in the California League to Ketchner's 159. Cate added six more whiffs for the Tacoma Rainiers, where he won his lone decision, allowing three runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 IP.

Troy struggled in 2004. He was 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA for Inland Empire but 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA for the San Antonio Missions, allowing a .316 average and only striking out 35 in 56 2/3 IP, a far cry from his first two seasons.

Cate missed almost two months of 2005 with left elbow tendonitis. Now a reliever, he was 4-4 with one save and a 2.53 ERA for the 66ers. He struck out 54 in 42 2/3 IP while allowing just one home run and a .221 average.

Cate signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent before 2006. He split a solid year between the Palm Beach Cardinals (2-2, 1 Sv, 1.54, .139 average, 58 K, 13 BB in 41 IP) and the Springfield Cardinals (1-1, 1 Sv, 0.57, 5 H, 20 K in 15 2/3 IP, .096 opponent average). His .127 opponent average was the lowest for relievers in the minor leagues, .001 ahead of Juan Salas.

Cate was 3-1 with a 1.21 ERA for the 2006-2007 Mazatlan Deer then had a 1.29 ERA in the postseason, allowing 8 hits in over 21 IP while fanning 21. Cate joined the Hermosillo Orange Growers for the 2007 Caribbean Series and got a no-decision in a start against the Carolina Giants.

Despite an indifferent performance as a starter and reliever for the Memphis Redbirds to start 2007, Cate was called up to the majors when struggling Anthony Reyes was demoted. He debuted in the majors on May 27th, relieving Randy Flores and retiring PH Austin Kearns on a fly to Scott Spiezio. He pitched a scoreless 9th as well and followed with a scoreless inning in his next outing. He was then sent down to make roster space for infielder Brendan Ryan with the club needing more infielders.

Primary Sources: 2003-2007 Baseball Almanacs, 2007 Cardinals Media Guide

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