Major League Baseball: India pitchers debut
BRADENTON, Fla. ó Pittsburgh Pirates farmhands Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became the first players from India to appear in organized baseball when each pitched an inning for Bradenton of the Gulf Coast League on Saturday.
Singh allowed one run on two hits and struck out one, throwing 13 of 20 pitches for strikes during the seventh inning of the Pirates’ 4-2 loss to the Yankees. Patel threw a scoreless eighth, throwing seven of nine pitches for strikes while striking out one.
The two signed last fall after appearing on a TV reality show called Million Dollar Arm designed to find athletes who could throw more than 90 miles per house in a country where baseball is almost unknown. Singh won the contest and the $100,000 prize and Patel was the runner-up. The contest is now in its second year.
“I was very excited to pitch in my first professional game,” said Singh, who was nervous despite the fact there were few spectators. “The first time I walked to the mound I was very fast but I threw a couple of pitches then I felt good.”
Singh’s fastball topped out at 83 miles per hour and Patel’s at 84, but Pirates general manager Neal Huntington expects the 20-year-old pitchers’ velocity to increase once they become more accustomed to the sport.
“It was difficult to learn how to pitch, now it’s difficult how to pitch inside then outside,” the left-handed Singh said. “But now everything is going good.”
The right-handed Patel doesn’t doubt he can pitch, although the Pirates were one of the few teams interested after he and Singh worked out for major league clubs.
“Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A then the majors,” he said of his anticipated career path.