Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ex-Blue Jay joins Seals pitching staff

Let’s take a closer look at the third pitcher with big-league experience signed by the Seals recently, Jason Kershner.

Kershner spent parts of three seasons in the majors, including a stint from 2002 to 2004 with the Toronto Blue Jays. His best season in the bigs was in 2003 when he gave up only 43 hits in 54 innings pitched and had a solid 3.17 ERA (incidentally, you can buy one of his game-worn Jays jerseys from 2003 right now on eBay). In 89 career big-league appearances, he sported a respectable 4.22 ERA.

Kershner was originally drafted out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 12th round of the 1995 amateur draft. The 6’2” southpaw started out in the low minors as a starter, but was eventually converted into a reliever. He went on to amass a 4.16 ERA and 25 saves in 517 career minor-league appearances.

Prior to the 2008 season, Kershner re-signed with the Phillies but he was released in June of that year after posting a 5.02 ERA in 19 appearances in the Eastern League (AA). He was signed by the Seattle Mariners a couple of weeks later, but he failed to impress during the remainder of 2008 and was not re-signed by the M’s.

Kershner spent last season with the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League, so he’s well acquainted with the starting catcher and player/coach of the Seals, Josh Arhart. Kershner had a 3-3 record and a 5.40 ERA in 55 relief appearances for the Revolution.

His most impressive pitching statistic is the number of walks given up: a stingy 2.5 walks per nine innings in his 15-year minor-league career. Batters have to earn their way on with “Kersh”, an attribute that will no doubt please Seals pitching coach Kip Gross. I wouldn’t describe Kershner as a power pitcher though. Kershner has averaged 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors, but that number dropped off to only 5.1 with the York Revolution.

Given the success that he has achieved in the higher levels of the minors and the big leagues, we can expect the 33-year-old Kershner to play a large part in the Seals' emergence as contenders in the GBL's North Division.