Knuckleball pitcher Dan Johnson is back with the St. Paul Saints after having played in Mexico for much of this year. According to an August 20 story at SaintsBaseball.com:
Looking for a spark over the final two weeks of the season the St. Paul Saints turned to a familiar face. Following his exceptional season in Mexico, the Saints have signed infielder, and former Major Leaguer, Dan Johnson….
The 38-year-old Johnson spent this year playing for Puebla and Leon in the Mexican League where he hit .319 with 13 home runs and 57 RBI in 62 games. IN 270 at bats he scored 38 runs, ripped 12 doubles, two triples, had a .470 on base percentage and a .585 slugging percentage.
Last year Johnson was a two-way player for the Saints. On the mound he was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts. In 40.0 innings he has walked 20 and struck out 27 while opponents are hitting just .231 against him. Over three straight starts from July 28-August 13 Johnson allowed just one run over 18.2 innings pitched.
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We learn from the My World of Baseball blog that although Cuba bested the Netherlands 3-0 in a recent World Cup matchup, “Cuba had some issues hitting Dutch knuckleball pitcher Luuk Ter Beek in the first four innings.”
In a July 23, 2017 post, Dutch Baseball Hangout reported on newcomer Luuk Ter Beek.
This kid, a son of a former teammate of mine, debuted with Hoofddorp Pioniers against Curaçao Neptunus the other day.
Of course, this kid has a name. Luuk ter Beek. His parents played softball and baseball. So it may not be a coincidence Luuk can be found on the diamond.
The pitcher has been playing since age six and winning championships since age seven.
Luuk debuted on Thursday, July 20th, [2017,] in an 8-2 loss vs Curaçao Neptunus. Luuk pitched the final frame in relief and pitched perfect, striking out one. He needed fourteen pitches of which eight were called for a strike. According to Luuk, he was only nervous when he walked to the mound. But as soon as he set foot on the mound he did not feel a thing. Apparently, he has ice water running through his veins.
Luuk masters a fastball of 84-85 mph. You may say that it is not fast, but he is only sixteen. It only can improve. He also masters a curve (77 mph), a knuckleball (72-73 mph) and a circle change (75 mph). How cool is that? A 16-year old kid mastering a knuckleball, a pitch that is hardly used nowadays.
One of Luuk’s goals reported in the July post was “to make the Dutch AAA team to play in the World Championship in Canada.” Now accomplished. See more about the Under-18 Baseball World Cup at CBC News.
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At #10, the knuckleball has made it to TheTopTens.com’s list of “Top Ten Baseball Pitches.” The knuckle curve is #2, and three different fast balls place at #3, #4, and #6. Thirty-three pitches in all are listed. Visitors to the page apparently determine the rankings by vote.