Pitcher Kevin Hergert, a Teaneck, N.J, native, has been a long shot to make it to MLB. But he has preserved throughout his professional 10-year baseball career, as the Tampa Bay Rays purchased his contract on Friday, August 19th.
It all started after attending Division III Kean University (N.J.), when the St. Louis Cardinals selected Hergert with the 1,175th overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft.
Then, Herget, now 31, began his long, arduous journey. He has been on eight minor league rosters, two independent league clubs and three winter league teams in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
All along, countless towns and long bus rides were part of his norm. Let’s not forget the two elbow surgeries, including Tommy John, the righty endured before getting the call to “The Show.”.
But I am sure Herget will tell you that it has all been worth it.
Hergert began the season with the Charleston Dirty Birds of the independent Atlantic League before inking a contract with the Rays organization in May. In Triple-A Durham, he had posted an 8-1 record and a 2.79 ERA mostly as a starter.
Herget left his mark on the Kean record books, as he has thrown the most innings of any pitcher in program history with over 345 frames of work to his credit.
In addition, Harget owns most strikeouts with 356 along with most wins (31). During his senior campaign, he posted a 10-2 record with a 1.62 ERA and 106 strikeouts. His 106 strikeouts were the second-most in all of Division III that season.
For his efforts, Herget was recognized as a second-team American Baseball Coaches Association All-American, New Jersey Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year and Eastern College Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Additionally, Herget was a part of three NJAC Championships, three NCAA Regional Championships and advanced to the NCAA Division III World Series for three straight seasons (2011-2013). Plus, he holds the single-season records for wins (10) and strikeouts (136). He was inducted into the Kean Athletics Benisch Hall of Fame in 2021.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo: Kean University Athletics.