Wilmer Font sets OKC Dodgers strikeout record

On Monday evening, Dodgers right-hander Wilmer Font set a new Oklahoma City Dodgers record for strikeouts by fanning 15 Sacramento River Cats over seven innings. The previous team record of 14 strikeouts was last matched on June 23, 1990.

Font was perfect through six innings before issuing his only walk of the game to second baseman Orlando Calixte in the top of the seventh inning. That walk was followed by two singles and a run scored as Font completed the inning with a 6-1 lead. Relying on his fastball, he threw a season high 98 pitches, 72 of them for strikes.

Wilmer Font’s 15 strikeouts on Monday afternoon set a new record for the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate Oklahoma City Dodgers. (Photo credit – Nate Billings)

His evening was made a little easier by two Dodgers home runs in the first inning, a two-run shot by second baseman Drew Maggi and a solo blast by center fielder Trayce Thompson.

The Dodgers went on to give Font his third win of the season by knocking off the River Cats 6-4. Reliever Layne Samsen continued his stellar season with a perfect eighth inning but coughed up a three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning. Right-hander Brandon Morrow closed out the game for his fifth save, inducing a ground ball out to shortstop Charlie Culberson.

However, the night belonged to Wilmer Font who was initially signed by the Texas Rangers as a non-drafted free agent on July 11, 2006. He was born in La Guaira, Venezuela and has already played eight years of minor league baseball. The 6’4”/265-pound Font along the way had the now almost obligatory Tommy Surgery back in 2011. The following year in 2012 his fastball was ranked the best in the Rangers organization by Baseball America.

Font dominated the minors in 2013, putting up a 1.04 ERA in 52 innings split between AA and AAA, striking out 71 and walking 34. Following a mid-season call up to the Rangers he appeared in a pair of games in the majors. He has never really replicated that season depending primarily on an upper 90 mph fastball for his outs.

In 2016 Font played with the Ottawa Champions of the Can-Am Independent League. The 26-year-old Font was leading the league in strikeouts with 61, complete games with three and was second in innings pitched with 60.1 when he was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Champions manager Hal Lanier says affiliated baseball is where Font belongs. “He’s been outstanding for us this year,” said Lanier. “I’m so happy he’s getting an opportunity. He deserves it.”

He finished the 2016 season with the Blue Jays New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Double-A Eastern League posting a 3.47 ERA while striking out 47 and walking seven.

Following the 2016 minor league season Font elected free agency and on December 21 signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers.

On the season, prior to his record setting performance, Font had posted a 4.89 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over seven starts and 35 innings pitched. He had struck out 48 hitters while walking only eight.

Of interest, the Pacific Coast League record for strikeouts by a pitcher is 19 which has been reached three times. Of even more interest to Dodger fans, former Dodger Burt Hooton was one of those three when recorded 19 strikeouts during a PCL game in 1971 while a member of the Tacoma Cubs. Hooton is currently the pitching coach of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the Class-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

 

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9 Responses to “Wilmer Font sets OKC Dodgers strikeout record”

  1. SoCalBum says:

    Have not paid attention to Font with a high ERA until your article, but you made me look at his overall stats. Excellent BAA (.217), OBP (.263), and K’s 63 v walks 9. Seems like a possible BP guy at some point for Dodgers.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Font actually appeared in four spring training games with the Dodgers this year, posting a 3.86 ERA in 2.1 IP. He also appeared in five MLB games with the Texas Rangers in 2012 and 2013.

      • SoCalBum says:

        thanks; just a guy who to whom I have not paid attention but will do so in the future.

        • Ron Cervenka says:

          He is in a difficult position. At age 27 (next week) there are quite a few guys in the high minors that are younger than Font, but if he can continue to throw like this, it will be impossible for Friedman and Zaidi to ignore him.

  2. Bluenose Dodger says:

    This from Matt Herges on Font’s start.

    “Out of all the at-bats, like a guy’s second time up or third time up, nothing was the same,” Herges said. “The first at-bat, he would’ve gotten ahead with a fastball. The second at-bat, he got ahead with a curveball. The third at-bat, he got ahead with something else. They were on their heels literally all night. This is a pretty good hitting team, and the swings that they were taking, it was like, ‘We have no idea what’s going on.'”

    Over his last four starts, Font has struck out 37 batters while walking just two. In addition to command and lively fastball, Herges raved about the splitter.

    “Everything that came out of his hand had aggression behind it,” he said. “In the past, in previous starts, especially with his split-finger and his curveball, he would just kind of baby it in there. We’ve been working hard on that in the bullpen.”

    “I’m going to encourage him to watch this game, because it’s a good thing to see when you’re going good,” Herges said. “Often times, we just watch video when we’re going bad to try to figure things out, but I like to watch it because I haven’t had him before this year, but this is probably the best he’s been.

    “He was in attack mode from pitch one all the way to 98. That’s what I want to encourage. That’s what I want him to continue to do to keep rolling. Attack works. Careful never works.”

    • SoCalBum says:

      Nothing better than pitching coach insight, thanks. Good fastball and splitter with command would be a terrific combo for a BP guy.

  3. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Love this: “Attack works. Careful never works.” Matt Herges

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Matt Herges is a GREAT guy and an even greater pitching coach. He is loved by all. I just wish he was still at Rancho so that I could chat with him again, as we often did.

      • SoCalBum says:

        Possible replacement for Honeycutt? I believe this is the last year of his contract as pitching coach. It was reported at the time he signed the 2 year contract extension that he would then move into the FO.

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