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Joe Saunders

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — No. 51
Starting pitcher
Born: June 16, 1981 (1981-06-16) (age 28)
Springfield, Virginia
Bats: Left Throws: Left 
MLB debut
August 16, 2005 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Career statistics
(through November 24,2009)
Win-Loss     48-22
Earned run average     4.22
Strikeouts     328
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Joseph Francis Saunders (born June 16, 1981 in Falls Church, Virginia) is a Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He attended West Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia

Contents

College and minor league career

Saunders played college baseball at Virginia Tech, where he compiled a 27-7 career record. His 27 wins tied him for third place in most career wins in school history.

Saunders was drafted in the 1st round (12th overall) by the Anaheim Angels in 2002. After being promoted to Single-A Cedar Rapids in 2002, he missed the entire 2003 season due to an injury in his left shoulder. He returned to the game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2004 and went 9-7 with a 3.41 ERA. He was promoted to Double-A Arkansas in 2004, and recorded a 7-4 record with two complete games in 2005.

Saunders was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake and was 10-7 with three complete games, including two shutouts, earning honors as the Angels Organization's Pitcher of the Year. He made his major league debut on August 16 against the Toronto Blue Jays, receiving a no decision after closer Francisco Rodriguez blew the save in a 4-3 loss for the Angels.

Saunders was sent back down to Salt Lake, but recalled on September 6 to start against the Seattle Mariners on September 14. Once again, he received a no-decision in a 10-9 defeat, and was optioned to Salt Lake. Though he was not placed on the playoff roster, he was re-signed by the Angels to a one-year contract.

He was named #37 of the top 50 minor league baseball players in 2006 by Minor League News.[1]

Major league career

After Cy Young winner Bartolo Colón was placed on the disabled list during the 2006 season, Saunders was recalled a final time and replaced Colon in the rotation. Before Saunders received his first loss, he compiled a 4-0 record. He ended the season with a 7-3 record and a 4.71 ERA.

Saunders began the 2007 season in the rotation while Colon remained on the disabled list. He was optioned to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees on April 21, 2007, to make room for Colon's return. Saunders made two spot starts for when a pitcher on the Angel's normal rotation was injured: for Colon (triceps tendinitis) on June 2, 2007, against the Baltimore Orioles and for Jered Weaver (bruised shoulder) on June 22, 2007, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was called up for a third time on July 21, 2007, to replace Ervin Santana in the starting rotation when Santana was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.

In 2008, Saunders entered spring training in a competition with Santana for the role of 5th starter in the Angels rotation. After the Angels' co-aces John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar sustained injuries, both Saunders and Santana were promoted to full time roles as the 3rd and 4th starter, respectively. In the first third of the season, both players shone brightly, with both being considered early candidates for the American League Cy Young Award. On June 3, 2008, Saunders became the American League's first 9 game winner in a 5-4 victory over division rivals the Seattle Mariners. Saunders gave up only 1 earned run, lowering his ERA to 3rd best in the American League in the process. Saunders also then became the first American League pitcher to get 11 wins, giving up only 2 earned runs to the Philadelphia Phillies on June 21, 2008. Following the 2008 season Saunders was asked to join the USA Baseball team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic however, Saunders declined the request due to not being physically in shape for the tournament.

Saunders started off with a great 2009 season. He pitched on opening day for the injured John Lackey and Ervin Santana. To start off the season, Joe went 8-1 with a 3.15 ERA.

On May 9, 2009, Saunders had his first complete game shutout against the Kansas City Royals.

Eventually, a shoulder injury Saunders had kept a secret during the season caught up to him and his ERA sky rocketed to 4.89. Finally, the staff found out and put Joe on the Disabled List. Once he came back, he went 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA.

Ties to Virginia Tech

As the only active major league player at the time from Virginia Tech, Saunders received special dispensation to wear a Virginia Tech cap during the April 20, 2007, game against the Seattle Mariners to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. Saunders also wore the initials "VT" on his cleats and drew the Virginia Tech logo on the back of the pitcher's mound before the start of the game. He picked up the win after pitching six shutout innings.[2]

Personal life

Saunders is married to his Virginia Tech classmate, the former Shanel Garofalo. They have one daughter, Matea, born on July 13, 2008. In an interview he described himself, "My personality is laid back and very low key. I like to have fun, and I like to hang out and be with family and friends. Then, once I get on the field, everything changes. I don’t think about any family, any friends, any babies, or anyone at all. Once I’m out there on that mound, I’m all business. I don’t think about anything except getting that hitter out any way I can."[3]

References

External links

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