When 18-year-old Trevor Reckling took the hill and fanned the first two batters he faced in his '07 pro debut with the Rookie League Arizona Angels, heads probably turned. And they have been turning ever since.
Reckling (3-1), who just turned twenty, is currently leading the Texas League with a 2.12 ERA and has 26 strikeouts. The Angels #4 prospect was called-up to the Travelers on April 23 from High-A Rancho Cucamonga after dominating the California League in three starts. In 19 innings for the Quakes the opposition was just hitting .138 against him and he had only given up three walks, with a 0.90 ERA. The Newark, New Jersey native was the youngest player in the Texas League went he was sent-up and sparkled in his debut win for the Travs a few days later.
Trevor was taken in the eighth round of the '07 draft by the Angels out of St. Benedict's Prep School in Newark and was the second New Jersey high schooler taken. After his rookie campaign he spent '08 at Low-A Cedar Rapids and was the Midwest League's youngest starting pitcher.
Reckling led the Kernels with 10 wins and during one stretch had a 29-inning scoreless streak using his smooth delivery and three-plus pitches. The 6' 2" 205 pound left-hander didn't turn twenty until May 22 and possesses possibly the best changeup in the Angels' system along with a low 90's fastball that he keeps down and locates beautifully. If that wasn't enough, he has a fall-off-the-table curveball. So when I recently met with him before the club left on the current road trip I asked the obvious question first.
Q: How did you learn to pitch so well, so young?
A: It's the work I've been doing in the off-season. It's paying-off.
Q: You were the Angels' "Minor League Pitcher of the Month" for April and now you have the lowest ERA in the Texas League with a 3-1 record. Are you surprised at your success so soon?
A: You know it was just both teams I've been playing with. Good chemistry on both teams and good defense behind me and again, hard work that's been paying-off in the off-season.
Q: You have three legitimate pitches. Is your changeup your best?
A: First would have to be my fastball. After that it would have to be my changeup.
Q: You probably had never been to Little Rock or Arkansas before you got here. What's the best thing you've seen about Little Rock so far?
A: Well actually I have. I was in Fayetteville. I tried out for a Perfect Game Showcase for high school kids coming up, and college, and draft status. Around here I like the scenery with the games being downtown. I really like the scenery.
Q: What's your latest status update on Facebook?
A: Well, I just put put one in. It said, "We just got a win! First one in awhile." (Note: The Travelers had just broken an eight game losing streak with a win in the second game of a doubleheader on Memorial Day .)
Reckling is scheduled to take the mound tonight (Sat.) for his seventh Arkansas start against the Missions at San Antonio.
Just when you think you've seen it all, then this.
Long time Traveler fan Tommy Green facing-up former Trav big Corey Smith for a foul ball whack he took off Smith's bat during the final home stand game between the Travelers and the Naturals.
I held my breath as Green tossed his bloody towel aside and showed the burly Northwest Arkansas infielder the dirty-deed that had required medical attention.
But it was all in jest, as Green was yanking the chain of the former Traveler fan-favorite, who had responded with genuine concern. Green said he was yakking instead of paying attention when he got whacked, and being as nimble as he is, normally would have darted out of the way.
-- Lonesome Traveler