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Former Akron pitcher Chris Bassitt set to make MLB debut Saturday

By Michael Beaven Published: August 29, 2014

Former University of Akron pitcher Chris Bassitt is scheduled to make his Major League Baseball debut on Saturday for the Chicago White Sox.

Bassitt, who pitched at UA from 2009-2011 and recorded a career ERA of 2.29 in 70 2/3   innings pitched, will start the second game of a doubleheader for the host White Sox against the Detroit Tigers. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

“I’m extremely happy for Chris,” UA coach Rick Rembielak said in a prepared statement. “He’s done very well at each level he’s pitched and it’s great to see him reach a milestone in his baseball career.”

Bassitt, 25, was drafted by the White Sox in the 2011 MLB Draft in the 16th round. He appeared in 23 games across three levels of the minor leagues and posted a 1.82 ERA over 34 2/3 innings pitched as a rookie.

Bassitt has a career minor league record of 22-10, an ERA of 2.97 and 303 strikeouts over 318 innings between Rookie ball and Class-AA. He has made 96 appearances (44 starts).

He dealt with a broken hand earlier this year and made his season debut on July 12. In six starts this season with Class-AA Birmingham, Bassitt has a 3-1 record, a 1.56 ERA and had 36 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.

“I saw him in spring training,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He had a live arm. We were impressed with him then. Now you get a chance to see him up here against some good hitters.”

Baseball America ranked Bassitt as the No. 15 prospect in the White Sox organization following the 2013 season after he went 11-4 with a 3.08 ERA between Birmingham and Class-A Winston-Salem.

The game Saturday is the nightcap of a split doubleheader, so the White Sox can add Bassitt as a 26th man on the roster without making a corresponding move. He is then scheduled to come off the roster after the game, but Ventura told the Chicago Sun-Times that Bassitt will return when MLB rosters expands Monday.

“It’s an opportunity for him,” Ventura said. “He’s had more time and seasoning down there that I think this is just the right time to do it for him, and he’s earned it.”

Bassitt, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, made 23 appearances in relief for the Zips in 2009. He compiled a 3.52 ERA in 30 2/3 innings, recorded 34 strikeouts, held opponents to a .184 batting average and had a team-high seven saves.

After taking time off during the 2010 season, in which he only appeared in one game, to focus on academics, Bassitt returned in 2011 to become the Zips closer and notched seven more saves with a 1.42 ERA in 28 relief appearances. He worked 38 innings, struck out 48 earned All-Mid-American Conference second-team honors.

Bassitt is slated to be the third former Zips player to make it to the Major League level, joining Mike Birkbeck and Mark Malaska. Birkbeck, who is currently Kent State’s Associate Head Coach, played for the Milwaukee Brewers (1986-1989) and New York Mets (1992-1995). Malaska played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003 and the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

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