Esteban Yan

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Esteban Luis Yan

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Esteban Yan was a member of the Hanshin Tigers in 2007 and set the Japanese single-season balk record. He had thrown in 472 major league games and had played for 17 seasons in professional baseball. He was the first American League pitcher in 28 years to homer in his first career at-bat when he did so in 2000, and he is the only man in major league history to hit a home run and maintain a 1.000 batting average.

1990-1994: Braves prospect[edit]

Yan was signed by the Atlanta Braves at age 15 as an undrafted free agent. He debuted with the 1991 DSL Braves and went 4-1 with a 3.63 ERA. He returned to the club in 1992 and was 12-3 with a 1.32 ERA. He finished 4th in the Dominican Summer League in ERA. In 1993, he came to the US with the Danville Braves and had a 4-7, 3.03 record. At age 19, he was pitching in a full-season league with the Macon Braves. He went 11-12 with a 3.27 ERA and walked only 34 in 170 2/3 IP. In April, he was traded with Roberto Kelly and Tony Tarasco to the Montréal Expos for Marquis Grissom as part of an infamous fire sale.

1995: One year in West Palm Beach[edit]

The young right-hander spent 1995 with the West Palm Beach Expos, going 6-8 with one save and a 3.07 ERA, walking 33 in 138 IP.

1996-1997: Orioles acquisition and major league debut[edit]

Yan was sold by the Expos to the Baltimore Orioles in spring training of 1996. He went 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 9 outings for the 1996 Bowie Baysox and 5-4, 4.27 with one save for the Rochester Red Wings, walking only 18 in 71 2/3 IP. He briefly appeared with the 1996 Orioles, pitching four games and getting hit hard. He was still only 21 at year's end.

Esteban spent most of 1997 back in Rochester, going 11-5 with 2 saves and a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts and 22 relief appearances. He finished second to Brian Rose in ERA in the International League, struck out 131 and walked 37 in 119 impressive innings. He went 0-1 in 3 late games for the 1997 Orioles, getting pounded for a 15.83 ERA as he allowed more than two hits per inning on average.

In the 1997-1998 Dominican Winter League seasons, Yan had a 3-2 record, 4 saves and a 2.85 ERA, walking only 9 in 41 innings for Estrellas.

1998-2002: Longest-lasting original Devil Ray[edit]

He was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1997 expansion draft. He was 5-4 with a 3.86 ERA for the club in its debut 1998 campaign, appearing in 64 games out of the bullpen, their third-most-used relief pitcher. He fell to 3-4 with a 5.90 ERA for the 1999 Devil Rays.

In 2000, Esteban went 7-8 with a miserable 6.21 ERA. It was the only season in which he started regularly in the majors. On June 4 of that year, though, he became the 77th major leaguer to homer in his first at-bat and the first AL pitcher to do so since Don Rose of the 1972 Angels. Overall, he was the 4th AL pitcher ever to accomplish the feat. Yan singled in 2003, the only other at-bat he had in the majors through 2006.

Yan was moved from the rotation to the closer's role in 2001 and went 4-6 with 22 saves and a 3.90 ERA. He struck out over a batter per inning while continuing to exhibit fine control. His 115 ERA+ was the best since his rookie season in Tampa Bay and would be the third-best of his big league career.

Returning to Estrellas, he was 1-1 with a 5.52 ERA and six saves (tied for third in the Dominican League) in 2001-2002. He then had a 7-8, 19 saves, 4.30 season for the 2002 Devil Rays. He was the last of the original Devil Rays to play with the club. Through 2006, he still leads the Devil Rays in career games pitched (266), is third in saves (42) and tied for second with Albie Lopez in wins (26). Despite being 8th in innings, he was third in strikeouts.

2003-2006: Roaming reliever[edit]

Becoming a free agent, Yan signed with the Texas Rangers. Esteban went 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA for the 2003 Rangers in 16 games. In May, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for non-prospect OF Rick Asadoorian. Yan's struggles continued in the Midwest as he was 2-0 with one save and a 6.02 ERA for the 2003 Cardinals. Opponents hit over .300 against him at both stops that season.

Yan went 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 11 games for Estrellas in 2003-2004 and walked only 9 in 65 innings. He was 6th in ERA and tied Robert Ellis for the win lead. Yan was named Pitcher of the Year. With the 2004 Tigers, Esteban had a 3.83 ERA, 3-6 record and 7 saves. His 118 ERA+ was his second-best after 1998 and he appeared in a career-high 69 games.

Esteban had a 3-0, 2.10 mark for Estrellas in 2004-2005 to make him 8-0 over two winters.

Signing with the Los Angeles Angels, Yan went 1-1 with a 4.59 ERA in 49 outings for the 2005 Angels. He allowed two earned runs in two postseason innings. The 30/31-year-old returned to LA for his 16th season in pro baseball and had a 6.85 ERA in 13 games for the 2006 Angels. On May 30, he was traded with cash to the Cincinnati Reds for Kyle Edens. Yan's record for the 2006 Reds read 1-0 with one save and a 3.60 ERA in 14 outings.

Overall, Yan was 33-39 with 51 saves and a 5.14 ERA (90 ERA+) in 472 games in the major leagues.

2007: Japan[edit]

After the 2006 season, Yan signed with the Hanshin Tigers. On August 21, 2007, Yan set the Nippon Pro Baseball record with his 12th balk of the season. He followed by hitting Shinichi Takeuchi with a pitch, earning him an ejection. Manager Atsuya Furuta was furious over the hit-by-pitch. Less than two weeks later, another Dominican set a Japanese balk record when Domingo Guzman issued four in a game. Yan finished the year 6-5 with a 4.66 ERA and the 12 balks. He only hit .143/.143/.179 despite his fine hitting in the majors.

2008: Norfolk[edit]

Yan spent 2008 with the Norfolk Tides, going 1-2 with a 5.70 ERA in 37 games.

2009- : Mexico and the indies[edit]

Yan split 2009 between the Bridgeport Bluefish (11-6, 3.29) and the Monterrey Sultans (0-1, 4.76). He was third in the Atlantic League in ERA behind Jim Magrane and Troy Cate. He went 12-3 with a 3.77 ERA for the 2010 Mexico City Red Devils. He was second in the Mexican League in wins behind Bobby Cramer. That off-season, Mexico traded him to the Laguna Vaqueros for Alexis Gomez.

Sources include 1993-2010 Baseball Almanacs,

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