Jorge Balboa Miguel
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 179 lb.
Jorge Balboa has pitched for the Spanish national team. He began his career as a catcher, hitting .289 for Hercules L'Hospitalet in 2005 and .211 in 2006. In 2007, he went 5-3 with a 4.29 ERA and 36 walks in 50 1/3 IP for Hercules L'Hospitalet in the Spanish Division Honor; at the plate, he batted .351. He joined the national team for the 2007 Baseball World Cup, allowing 2 runs in 3 innings against Team USA and 1 run in 2/3 of an inning against the Mexican national team.
In the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, Balboa allowed four runs and 9 hits in 5 2/3 IP for the Spaniards. He moved to FC Barcelona for 2008 after Hercules folded and did a great job, going 7-1 with a 1.57 ERA. He finished 5th in the Division Honor in ERA and tied Yoel Hernandez for 6th in wins. Balboa tossed six no-hit innings, walking 4 and fanning 8, in the 2008 European Cup in Regensburg, beating Olimpija Karlovac and Jeffrey Calderone. As a pinch-runner, he stole home in a comeback win over the Czech team Draci Brno. Barcelona went on to win the Cup. In the 2008 Final Four, he tossed one scoreless frame.
Balboa moved to the Italian Baseball League for 2009, signing with Rimini. He did not debut until April 25, when he faced two batters, giving up a Renato Imperiali 2-run single before getting a force out to end the inning. He allowed 3 runs in 8 innings for Rimini in '09.
In 2010, Balboa signed with the Tenerife Marlins Puerto Cruz and had a rough season (18 H, 12 BB, 17 K, 15 R, 14 ER in 13 1/3 IP, Sv). He was far sharper in 2011, playing for Barcelona again (10-1, 1.69, 121 K, 42 H in 90 2/3 IP), helping them win their first title in 55 years. He was second in the league in opponent average (.138), third in strikeouts (behind Ricardo Hernandez and Carlos Amaro), tied Lowuin Sacramento for third in wins and 7th in ERA. After Spain had performed poorly in the 2010 European Championship (Balboa was not on the roster), they had to play in the 2011 European Championship Qualifiers. They won their pool and Balboa turned in a 1-2-3 inning against Finland, combining with Hernandez and Pedro Pablo Belmonte on a rout.
He pitched well in the 2012 European Cup but lost a 2-0 duel to Justin Kuehn and the Regensburg Legionäre and was also outdueled by Tim Roodenburg of host Neptunus Rotterdam. He was 0-2 despite a 2.77 ERA and 14 K in 13 innings. He was 6th in the Cup with a .174 opponent average (between Dushan Ruzic and Owen Ozanich) and led in strikeouts (one ahead of Chris Mezger, Ruzic and Mike Bolsenbroek) but also led in losses due to the poor offensive support. In the 2012 Division Honor season, he was 11-1 with a save and a 1.94 ERA for Barcelona (which became CB Barcelona after FC Barcelona withdrew their sponsorship). He struck out 122 in 97 2/3 IP and allowed 52 hits but did walk 55. He was 4th in the league in ERA, allowed the lowest average (.158, .018 ahead of Oscar Jimenez), was 10th in innings, placed 5th in strikeouts, tied for 4th in wins and tied for third in games pitched (18) and starts (16). He was easily the top native Spanish pitcher in the loop, which was dominated as usual by imports from abroad. He allowed only one hit (to Christoffer Johansson) in three innings in the 2012 European Championship and struck out three in three relief outings as Spain took home the Bronze to bounce back from 2010.
Balboa threw 175 pitches in one game in the 2013 European Cup, losing 2-1 to Telemarket Rimini despite 8 walks. He was 0-1 with a save (saving Hernandez's win over the Rouen Huskies) and a 0.82 ERA for the event, ranking among the tournament's leaders in ERA (tied Yorman Bazardo for 7th), strikeouts (10, 7th) and walks (tied for the most with Harry Glynne and Taylor Swift). In the 2013 Division Honor season, he was 8-3 with a 3.71 ERA and 104 K in 77 2/3 IP. He was 6th in opponent average (.199, between Miguel Vargas and Sacramento), 9th in strikeouts (between Alexis Fumero and Vargas) and tied for 6th in wins (with Jose Romero and Juan Jose Lopez).
He signed with the Kochi Fighting Dogs in the Shikoku-Kyūshū Island League for 2014, going 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 24 games. He was presumably the first Spanish player in a Japanese pro circuit. One of his teammates was French batter Frédéric Hanvi. Pitching for Spain when they won the Bronze in the 2014 European Championship, he started against eventual champion the Netherlands and lasted 2 1/3 IP, allowing 3 hits, 3 walks and four runs; Andrés Pérez took over him. Returning to Barcelona in 2015, he was 6-6 with a 1.88 ERA and struck out 107 in 100 2/3 IP while going 3 for 11 with a double. He was 6th in ERA (between Zael Honora and Eric Izquierdo), tied Honora for third in strikeouts, was 5th in IP, 5th in wins (between Trevor Caughey and Yosue Castellano) and tied for first with 14 games started.
In the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, he closed out the game against Colombia. Entering with a 9-2 deficit in the 9th after relieving Pérez, he walked former major leaguer Luis Martinez on four pitches, threw a wild pitch and walked Carlos Vidal on six. He recovered to get Harold Ramírez to hit into a double play but walked Dilson Herrera on four pitches. He retired Reynaldo Rodríguez to finish the inning. He was the lone native-born Spaniard on a team loaded with Cubans and Venezuelans. He was 7-7 with a 2.17 ERA and 140 K in 108 IP in the 2016 season. He was 8th in the Divison Honor in ERA (between Sacramento and Cesar Gonzalez), 7th in opponent average (.215, between Gonzalez and Iván Granados), third in innings (behind Castellano and Honora), led in whiffs (20 more than Castellano), tied for 4th in wins, tied Kerson Trinidad for second with 16 games pitched, tied for 4th with 14 starts and tied for 4th in losses. He was dominant in the 2016 European Championship, when Spain won the Silver for their best finish since 1955. He allowed one hit (to Costa Kapothanasis) and one walk (to Jason Zachos) in 5 innings, striking out 7 against Greece before Granados relieved. Against the eventual champion Netherlands, he worked 2 1/3 perfect innings of relief of Hernandez, striking out two, in a 1-0 loss; he was relieved by former major leaguer Rhiner Cruz. Entering the finale, only Shairon Martis had pitched more innings without allowing a run and Martis gave up two in the Gold Medal game.