The Austin Drillers Jin-Chi Tanaka, the top pick in the Season 9 draft shared a hometown and a wild streak with former Tiger Rookie-of-the-Year, Mark Fidrych. Fidrych died yesterday at the age of 54. "The Bird" as Fidrych was known was killed when a truck he was working on fell on him.
Fidrych accomplished some amazing feats including throwing 24 complete games and 250 innings as a rookie in 1976 when he didn't join the team until May 15. Fidrych was a quirky Bird, working at a lightning pace with arms and legs flying everywhere. After innings, he sprinted to the dugout, eager for the next frame to begin.
Tanaka, who continues to struggle with his command at the minor league level, went 6-13 with a 5.15 ERA at AA this season. He walked 80 and struck out 178 in 160.2 IP. Scouts continue to rave about his potential, and at age 20, he has plenty of time to reach it. In the meantime, expect Tanaka to continue paying tribute to "The Bird" by sprinting to and from the mound, and working as quickly as possible.