UPDATE: King makes positive Astro debut

Published 6:26 pm Saturday, June 22, 2024

Former McNeese State left-hander Bryan King capped off a wild two days with a perfect inning of pitching Sunday.

King became the latest Cowboy to reach the Major Leagues when the Houston Astros called up the 27-year-old from Triple-A Sugar Land early Saturday morning. King was given the news after Friday night’s Space Cowboys game in El Paso.

King made his Astros debut Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles. Entering the game in the top of the eight, King got three quick outs, including picking up his first career strikeout.

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After getting Jordan Westburg to ground out, King struck out Gunnar Henderson looking for the second out of the inning. He ended the frame by getting Anthony Santander to line out.

King’s debut lasted just seven pitches, six being strikes as the Astros finished the sweep of Baltimore with an 8-1 victory.

He made a strong impression on Houston coaches during the spring after missing 2023 following Tommy John surgery.

“He was pretty impressive in spring training in the small sample that we got to see him,” Astros manager Joe Espada told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s tough against both lefties and righties. So we’re kind of looking forward to having him here. I think there’s opportunities for him here. He’s thrown the ball really well in Triple-A. He’s a guy that we’ve been talking about for a while.”

King, who pitched four years for McNeese from 2016-19, was in uniform Saturday for the Astros despite not getting off the plane until 1 a.m.

McNeese head baseball coach and King’s family were on hand to see the lefty’s first game in the majors. However, the reliever didn’t see action as the Astros knocked off Baltimore 5-1.

“I’m really happy for Bryan and his family,” said Hill. “He certainly earned it through hard work and his performance this year.”

King is in the middle of a strong season, posting a 1.87 earned run average in 33⅔ innings. He has recorded three saves and a win, striking out 41 while walking just three.

Over his career, King has a career 2.77 ERA in 123⅔ minor league innings, all as a reliever.

King appeared in 73 games for McNeese, starting in 42 of them. He posted a 16-14 career record with a 5.06 ERA.

He struck out 208 in 231 innings and was named an Academic All-American in 2019.

The Chicago Cubs originally selected King in the 30th round of the 2019 draft. He was picked 912th overall that season. After the 2022 campaign Kick the Astros took him from the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft.

If King continues to throw well, Espada said he could become a long-term left-handed option for the Astros. Houston has won five straight games and enjoyed an off day Monday.

That should give King a chance to catch his breath.

“This couldn’t have happened to a better person,” said Hill.