Huijer having historic season for AquaSox
Lars Huijer, a 19-year-old pitcher from the Netherlands, has a record of 8-1 with a 2.09 earned run average.
It was, relatively speaking, a below average outing for Huijer. That speaks to the standard Huijer has created for himself this season.
Huijer is having a historic campaign for the Sox, and he's a big reason why Everett is headed to the playoffs.
"He's been huge," Everett manager Rob Mummau said. "He's been probably one of the most consistent pitchers we've had. He's been a guy we can really rely on."
Huijer's numbers are eye-popping. In 12 games (11 starts) the 19-year-old right-hander from the Netherlands is 8-1 with a 2.09 ERA. In 642/3 innings he's allowed just 43 hits and 20 walks while striking out 53. He's tied for the Northwest League lead in wins, second in ERA, fourth in strikeouts, and he started for the North in the All-Star Game. Earlier this season he had a stretch of 252/3 scoreless innings, which included starts of eight and seven shutout innings in which he allowed just one hit each time.
The remarkable thing about Huijer is that he's compiled those numbers without the benefit of overpowering stuff. His fastball sits in the high 80s, and his offspeed pitches aren't knee bucklers.
But what Huijer has is command. He puts the ball where it needs to be, and he does it with all of his pitches.
"It's just like the old saying," Mummau said. "He changes speeds, he throws strikes and he gets ahead. Those three things are key."
Said Huijer: "just pound the strike zone and that's been working a lot. I'm just going to keep doing it."
Huijer's numbers also put him in rare company in AquaSox history. Since the AquaSox began playing in Everett in 1995, just six pitchers have reached eight wins during the 76-game season. Huijer should make two more starts during the regular season meaning he could reach 10, which would tie the franchise record set by Craig Anderson in 1999.
"It's going great, but we're not done yet," Huijer said of his season. "We have two weeks left and the playoffs, and those games are the most important to me. I want to win the ring, I'm not going home without one."
Home for Huijer is a location not usually noted for baseball. The Netherlands is known primarily as a soccer country, though baseball is growing in popularity, largely because of the influence of Caribbean islands Aruba and Curacao, which are part of the Dutch Antillies. Among the Dutch players who have suited up for Everett in the past are outfielders Gregory Halman and Kalian Sams.
Huijer got into baseball because it ran in the family -- his grandfather, father and brother all played the sport. He signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2011 at the age of 17 and played the past two seasons in Seattle's minor-league system without distinction. But this season he's taken a big step forward.
"I've grown a lot," Huijer said. "I signed when I was 17. I'm 19 right now and I've grown up as a man. My body, I was a little kid when I came here and now I'm getting bigger body wise, but also mentally I just know what to do right now."
And the Sox are hoping he can be just the ace they need once the postseason arrives.
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