In the long and rich history of Major League Baseball, the state of Ohio has produced an abundance of stars who have gone on to represent the sport in tremendous fashion.
Hall of Fame members Ed Delahanty, Rollie Fingers, Phil Niekro, Branch Rickey, George Sisler, and Cy Young were all born in the Buckeye state, and hundreds of other great players such as Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Paul O’Neill, Barry Larkin and Thurman Munson called Ohio their birthplace as well.
Currently, the state of Ohio is well represented in the pitching ranks. Here are five of the top (current) MLB pitchers who were born in the great Buckeye state.
Born in Coldwater, Ohio in 1985, San Diego Padres starting pitcher Cory Luebke honed his skills at Marion High School in Maria Stein before moving on to Ohio State University.
Luebke, drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft, completed his first full season with the Padres in 2011. He started the season in the bullpen before moving into the starting rotation in late June.
Luebke’s overall record was only 6-10, however he posted a nifty 3.29 ERA and appears primed to build on an outstanding full season.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1987, San Francisco Giants pitcher Eric Surkamp enjoyed his first taste of the big leagues in 2011, debuting on August 27 against the Houston Astros.
Surkamp, who attended North Carolina State University and was a sixth round draft pick for the Giants in 2008, was impressive in his debut, allowing just one run on six hits in six innings of work.
Surkamp would start five more times in the final month of the 2011 season, and figures to be vying for a spot in the starting rotation for the Giants in the 2012 season.
Relief specialist Matt Guerrier, born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1978, has developed into one of the most reliable and durable right-handed relievers in the majors, posting five consecutive seasons of at least 70 appearances.
Guerrier led the American League in appearances in 2008 and 2009 while with the Minnesota Twins, and signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2011 season.
Born in Newark, Ohio in 1986, Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland was a highly touted southpaw when the Rangers drafted him out of Wallace State Community College in the 25th round of the 1986 MLB Draft.
Holland, who made his MLB debut with the Rangers in 2009, was a key part of the starting rotation in 2011, with a 16-5 record and 3.95 ERA in 32 starts. Holland delivered a masterful performance in Game 4 of the 2011 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, blanking the Cards on just two hits over 8.1 innings.
With ace C.J. Wilson leaving the Rangers via free agency, Holland will be counted upon to continue delivering excellence for the Rangers as they look to defend their AL championship in the 2012 season.
At just 27 years of age, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, born in Defiant, Ohio in 1984, has already become a seasoned veteran, completing his sixth year with the Dodgers in 2011.
With a 70-52 lifetime record and 3.68 ERA, Billingsley is a great complement to staff ace and 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and the two form one of the top 1-2 starter combos in the National League.
Who else should be included on this list?
Jeff Herbst (born and raised in the Midwest) has had a passion for sports ever since he could first walk.. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that manufacturers world-class baseball bats such as their youth wood bats for little league sluggers across the globe.