By the skin of his teeth, Houston Astros prospect Derek West received eligibility to pitch for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. But even after hearing his roster status later than other players, West was quick to make his debut Tuesday.
West relieved starting pitcher Tom de Blok in the fourth inning, cutting his foot into the rubber for the first time on international soil. Facing three Cuban hitters, the righty generated three consecutive groundouts on 15 pitches. Entering the fifth inning, the leash wasn’t too long.
Throwing 12 more pitches, West recorded two outs in play, before walking the sixth batter he faced. Manager Hensley Meulens gave him the hook there, handing the ball to Eric Mendez, who closed out the frame. West finished his first World Baseball Classic with 1.2-scoreless innings with one walk on 27 pitchers.
West threw his whole kitchen sink — a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a slider and a curveball — against Team Cuba. His fastball averaged 93.4 mph in the third inning and then 92.5 mph in his second, decreasing in velocity as the Kingdom of the Netherlands stretched out the righty.
Pitching coach Bert Blyleven is high on West, looking to the Astros prospect early in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Cuba. Moving forward, the Kingdom of the Netherlands may extend West for more than one inning, as a 65-pitch limit is enforced in World Baseball Classic games.