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A Rare Major League Debut: Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Sunday 4/11, 12:10 CT

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The last time Mike Leake pitched, he was wearing the uniform of the Arizona State University Sun Devils. Today, he will join a very small fraternity of major league pitchers who have come through the draft (since 1965) and gone directly to the major leagues -- he'll be the 11th such pitcher. The last one to do that was Darren Dreifort, who went right from Wichita State to the Dodgers in 1994.

Tracy Ringolsby runs down the details on previous such debuts; you'll see that many of these pitchers didn't have much of a major league career.

One who did was Burt Hooton, who was drafted by the Cubs in the first round out of the University of Texas in 1971. Unlike a lot of #1 picks today, like Mike Leake, where the player doesn't sign for a while and doesn't pitch till the year after he's drafted, Hooton signed and went right to the major leagues, making his debut on June 17, 1971. Hooton threw only 3.1 innings and gave up three runs along with five walks, before being sent to the minors. When he returned in September, he tied the then-team record by striking out 15 Mets in the second game of a doubleheader on September 15, 1971. Hooton was traded away just after turning 25 in one of the worst deals of the John Holland era; the Cubs got Eddie Solomon and Geoff Zahn, and Hooton went on to three World Series with the Dodgers. Zahn turned into a decent pitcher -- for the Twins and Angels, after the Cubs unconditionally released him in 1977.

So what to expect today from Mike Leake? Who knows? The Cubs typically don't fare well against young pitchers they haven't seen before, but I know the Cubs scouting department was looking at him when he was at ASU for possibly drafting him last year, before his stock rose so much that he was taken by the Reds far before the Cubs' first round pick came up.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Tom Gorzelanny
Tom Gorzelanny
Cubs
vs. Mike Leake
Mike Leake
Reds
7-3 W-L making
5.55 ERA his
47 SO major
17 BB league
17 HR debut
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

Tom Gorzelanny's numbers above are 2009 season stats

As noted above, Mike Leake is making his major league -- and professional -- debut today. The Cubs faced the Reds three times in spring training, but didn't face Leake then, either.

Tom Gorzelanny made one start against the Reds last year -- his first appearance as a Cub on August 4, an outstanding 7.1-inning, three-hit, one-run, six-strikeout outing. Let's hope for a repeat today. Current Reds are hitting .216 (11-for-51, 1 HR by Jay Bruce) against Da Gorz.

Today's game is on CSN+ -- once again, the Blackhawks have the main CSN channel today. If you're in Chicago it should be on channel 285 for HD. FSN Ohio is also covering the game today. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

This afternoon's first pitch thread will be up at 12 noon CDT, and the overflows will post at 1:15, 2:15 and 3 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.