Lars Benjamin Huijer
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 183 lb.
- High School Herbert Vissers College
Dutch right-hander Lars Huijer was signed to a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners in May 2011. The deal was for seven years and the scouts were Wayne Norton and Peter van Dalen. His brother Swen Huijer had earlier signed with the Boston Red Sox.
At age 14, he became the youngest player ever invited to the MLB European Academy in Tirennia, Italy. In the 2009 World Youth Championship, Lars was 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA and struck out a team-high nine batters in his nine innings of work. He beat the Czech Republic but lost to Cuba. Huijer was part of the Dutch Junior National Team that played at the 2010 World Junior Championship in Canada. He beat Panama in a relief outing and got no-decisions in a rocky start against the Czech Republic and a strong game against Italy.
His debut was in Hoofdklasse in 2010; in one game, he struck out 3 in 2 2/3 shutout innings. In 2011, he was a starting pitcher for the Hoofddorp Pioniers, where he started with a 2-2 record in seven starts with an ERA of 5.67. He has struck out 14 batters in 33 1/3 innings, walking twelve.
Huijer came to the U.S. in 2011 and made his pro debut with the AZL Mariners, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 5 appearances. He pitched in the Mariners' organization from 2011 to 2014, reaching advanced Class A with the High Desert Mavericks of the California League in 2014. His best season was in 2013 with the Everett AquaSox, where he was 8-2, 3.03 in 14 games. That year, he was second in the Northwest League in wins (one behind Drew Leenhouts) and was 9th in ERA (between Colton Turner and Collin Wiles) while tying for 4th in K (61). He also reinforced the Pioniers in the 2013 Holland Series, joining his brother. He dropped Game 3 to Diegomar Markwell and Neptunus. On January 15, 2015, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in return for Mike Kickham but he never got into a game for the Cubs. He was 15-14 with a 4.33 ERA for his minor league career.
Lars was 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA for the Pioniers in the 2015 Hoofdklasse and was among the leaders in opponent average (.216, between Tom Stuifbergen and Mike Groen), innings (86, 2nd, 1/3 behind Ricardo Hernandez), strikeouts (67, 7th, between Kevin Heijstek and Kenny Vandenbranden), wins (tied Kyle Ward for 7th) and starts (14, tied for 1st). In 2016, he was much better at 10-2, 1.19 with a .177 opponent average and 107 K in 98 IP. He was 4th in ERA (between Nick Veltkamp and Orlando Yntema), 4th in opponent average (between Chris Pfau and Keiji Uezono), 1st in innings (8 1/3 ahead of Yntema), 1st in strikeouts (two more than Pfau) and tied Yntema for first in wins. He was a finalist for Pitcher of the Year but that went to ERA king Vandenbranden.
Huijer made his first appearance with the senior Dutch national team in the 2016 Haarlem Baseball Week but his first major event was the 2016 European Championship. He was excellent in his debut, facing the 3-0 Czech national team and holding them to two hits (by Martin Schneider and Martin Červenka) in six shutout innings before Loek van Mil closed it out. In the finale, versus Spain, he succeeded Rob Cordemans in the fifth with a 2-0 lead. He allowed four hits and one walk in three innings but no runs and turned the ball over to former major leaguer Shairon Martis, who blew the lead but the Dutch rallied for the title. He was a reliever for the Netherlands in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He allowed one run in seven innings in the 2017 World Port Tournament, getting a win and tying Chien-Lung Huang for 8th in ERA.
He had a 4-3, 2.01 record in the 2017 Hoofdklasse. He was third in ERA (after Heijstek and Cordemans), 4th in opponent average (.224, between Markwell and Timo van Ancum), tied Jurjen van Zijl for 5th in IP (71 2/3) and first in strikeouts (78, 6 more than Heijstek). He pitched six shutout innings in the 2018 Haarlem Baseball Week and beat Misael Villa and Cuba. He hit the most batters (four) but was 5th in opponent average (.150) and 6th in ERA (between Enorbel Marquez and Masato Morishita).
Lars was 5-4 with a 1.35 ERA and .81 WHIP in the 2018 Hoofdklasse, allowing 13 walks in 93 1/3 IP while fanning 101. He led the league with four complete games and two shutouts, was third in ERA (after van Mil and Markwell), second in IP (93 1/3, 2 1/3 behind Kaj Timmermans) and second in K (two behind Pfau). In the 2018 Super6, he was knocked around by Italy (7 H, 2 BB, 4 R, 4 ER in 2 1/3 IP) before Mike Bolsenbroek and the offense bailed him out. The Dutch won the tournament.
In the 2019 World Port Tournament, he beat former major leaguer Josh Collmenter and North America, going 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA for the event. He was 4-2 with a 0.77 ERA, .135 opponent average, 112 K in 93 IP and .72 WHIp to dominate the 2019 Hoofdklasse, not giving up a homer all year. He won the ERA title (.42 ahead of Jhan Rifaele), allowed the lowest average (.035 better than Pfau), was second in innings (2 1/3 behind Timmermans), led in K (7 more than Pfau), led in complete games (3) and led in shutouts (2). He threw a no-hitter as well. It appears that the Pitcher of the Year Award was no longer extant by this time or he would presumably have won. He struck out 11 and allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to beat Germany and Daniel Thieben in the 2019 European Championship as the Netherlands repeated as European champs. He tied Christian Tomsich and Cédric De Smedt for 6th in K. In the 2019 Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, he pitched shutout ball from the 6th to the 8th against Spain after replacing Cordemans but gave up an unearned run in the 9th and Juan Carlos Sulbaran closed out the win. The Netherlands lost the tourney to Israel but did advance to the Final Olympic Qualifier. To cap a busy year, he pitched in the 2019 Premier 12, struggling against Team USA when Bobby Dalbec hit a grand slam off him and pitching a shutout inning against Mexico to finish at 13.50.
The 2020 Hoofdklasse season was shortened significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic; he was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 31 K in 24 IP. He was 8th in strikeouts, between Jayden Gonesh and Gio de Graauw. He then switched to Germany's Heidenheim Heideköpfe, going 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA in two regular-season games and 2-1, 3.79 in three postseason games as they won the Bundesliga-1 title.
He was excellent in his one outing in the Final Olympic Qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics. Succeeding former major leaguer Jair Jurrjens with a 6-0 deficit in the 3rd, he went 3 1/3 shutout innings against Venezuela (Hernán Pérez got the lone hit) before Kevin Kelly took over. He was clearly the bright spot for the Netherlands in a 10-0 loss. He was 9-3 with a 1.98 ERA in the 2021 Hoofdklasse (after moving to HCAW) and struck out 120 in 100 innings, with a .82 WHIP. He tied Dennis Burgersdijk for second in wins (one behind Markwell), led in complete games (3), tied Burgersdijk for the most shutouts (2), led in innings (16 2/3 ahead of Burgersdijk) and led in strikeouts (48 more than Burgersdijk). His first appearance in the 2021 European Championship was against Slovakia, the first pitcher to face them in their European Championship debut. After Martin Brunegraf singled, he struck out the side - Tomáš Biskorovajný, Mário Gottschall and Martin Lukačka - then Bolsenbroek took over as the Dutch were rotating pitchers in so no one got worn out for later games. His other outing was not as good, allowing 12 hits (but no walks) and 5 runs (4 earned) in 5 1/3 IP, striking out 7, but it was enough to beat Daniel Cooper and the British national team. He led the champs in strikeouts but had their third-highest ERA (Bolsenbroek and Timmermans were higher).
He was much better in the 2022 Haarlem Baseball Week, winning 2-1 duels against both Italy and Japan, posting a 0.58 ERA. He led the event in wins, tied Yuen Socarras for 4th in strikeouts (10) and was 5th in ERA (the lowest of anyone who allowed an earned run). He won Haarlemse Honkbalweek Best Pitcher, an honor won in the past by Mark Prior, José Contreras and Mike Minor among others. He was 11-1 with a save and a 0.84 ERA in the 2022 Hoofdklasse regular season. He tied Burgersdijk for the most wins, led in ERA (.12 ahead of Scott Prins), tied for second in complete games (4, 2 behind Burgersdijk), was second in shutouts (2, one behind Burgersdijk), led in innings (four ahead of Burgersdijk) and led in strikeouts (128, 38 ahead of Martis). He beat Sulbaran and Neptunus in the 2022 Holland Series opener, his first Holland Series in nine years, though he allowed four runs in eight innings. Jared Mortensen saved the victory. He then pitched a shutout in Game 4, following similar shutouts by Burgersdijk and Ploeger, beating Kelly in a 2-0 duel. He allowed only two hits (to Dashenko Ricardo and Sheadion Jamanika) and two walks in the whitewash. He was named Series MVP.
- Dutch newspaper article (translated via Google)
- Mister Baseball
- 2009 World Youth Championship
- 2010 World Junior Championship
- 2014 Baseball Almanac'
- Dutch Baseball and Softball Federation
- 2016 European Championship
- World Baseball Classic
- Haarlem Baseball Week site
- 2018 Haarlem Baseball Week
- 2018 Super6
- 2019 World Port Tournament
- 2019 European Championship
- 2019 Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier
- 2019 Premier 12
- 2021 Final Olympic Qualifier
- 2021 European Championship
- 2022 Haarlem Baseball Week
- Marco Stoovelaar's Dutch baseball site