Austin Daniel Pruitt
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.
- School University of Houston
- High School The Woodlands College Park High School
- Debut April 2, 2017
Pitcher Austin Pruitt was the first player to make his major league debut in 2017. Playing for the Tampa Bay Rays, the team that had drafted him out of the University of Houston in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, he entered the opening day game against the New York Yankees in the top pf the 9th inning with Tampa holding a 7-2 lead. He was quite unlucky as the first batter he faced, Chase Headley, hit a routine grounder to third, but because of a defensive shift, it went for a hit. Aaron Judge followed with another ground ball to third, but it popped out of Evan Longoria's glove for an error. The next batter, Aaron Hicks, then hit a ball that deflected just off the tip of SS Tim Beckham's glove for a base hit that loaded the bases, and Austin gave way to closer Alex Colome, who retired the next three batters to end the game, with Headley scoring on a sacrifice fly. With just a little better luck, Pruitt could have had a 1-2-3 inning but he ended up not recording an out. It was the beginning of a rough start to Austin's major league career, as he gave up one or more runs in each of his first six appearances, at which point his ERA was up to 15.88. He pitched better after that but was sent down to the minors after allowing 8 runs over his first two games in May. He then was on a shuffle between AAA and the majors, coming back to Tampa from late May to late June, and again in late July. He had made a spot start on April 25th, then beginning on July 28th, was given a chance to start more regularly. On August 2nd, back before friends and family in Houston, TX, he had an outstanding game, holding the powerful Houston Astros scoreless over 6 1/3 innings and getting credit for a 3-0 win. For all the runs he had given up early in the year, he had often found himself at the right place at the right time, as the win improved his record to 6-2 with a save in spite of a 5.65 ERA.