A pair of Kane County Cougars alumni made their major league debuts on Friday evening. Pitcher Dan Straily, a member of the 2010 Cougars, made his major league debut, starting for the Oakland Athletics against Toronto. Another pitcher, Mickey Storey from the 2009 Cougars squad, made his debut for the Houston Astros last night against Atlanta. Storey and Straily become the 119th and 120th former Cougars to reach the Major Leagues. Both players join pitchers Pedro Figueroa and Sean Doolittle, who both debuted earlier this season with Oakland as Cougars to make their big league debuts this season.
The 23-year old Straily was part of the Cougars’ 2010 Opening Day roster and was a 10-game winner that season, going 10-7 with a 4.32 ERA and 148 innings pitched. Straily won 11 games the following season at Class-A Advanced Stockton, and opened this season at Double-A Midland. The right-hander, who was not regarded as one of the A’s top prospects by numerous publications, quickly caught the attention of Minor League Baseball earlier this season and hasn’t backed off since. The right-hander struck out a career-high 15 batters on May 18 for Midland, and was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento the following month. In 8 starts with Sacramento, Straily went 5-2 with a 1.36 ERA and at the time of his promotion on Thursday, led Minor League Baseball with 175 strikeouts. The next closest pitcher has 138 strikeouts. Straily becomes the first Cougar from the 2010 team to reach the major leagues.
Storey pitched in 13 games for the Cougars in 2009, all in relief. The right-hander only allowed one earned run in those 13 games before receiving a promotion to Class-A Advanced Stockton on June 25 that summer. The only other Cougars alumnus to make his big league debut with the Astros was Tommy Martin (’91 Cougar) on April 2, 1997.
Last night’s occurrence marks the third time in franchise history that 2 former Cougars made their big league debuts on the same date. Vic Darensbourg (’93 Cougar) and Gabe Gonzalez (’95 Cougar) both debuted with the Florida Marlins on April 1, 1998. More recently, Trevor Cahill (’07 Cougar) and Ronald Belisario (’02 Cougar) made their big league debuts on April 7, 2009, for Oakland and the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively.
The Cougars organization, which began in 1991 and is presently affiliated with the Kansas City Royals, has had at least one former player make a Major League debut in each season, dating back to 1993. The list includes Major League All-Stars, World Series champions and former Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winners.