Baker given the ball for Chattanooga in rare Double-AA start

August 5, 2021

Dylan Baker

The last time Dylan Baker of Juneau played at the Double-A level he was used as a reliever. Three years later he’s back at Double-A, but this time as a starter.

Part of the reason why Baker has carved out a nine-year minor-league career is because of his ability to pitch in any situation.

Starter, long relief, middle relief, closer – he’s done it all.

Baker has earned two starts among his nine appearances for the Chattanooga Lookouts – his lone starts in 56 career games at the Double-A level. His previous Double-A experience came in 2017 with Akron (13 games) and 2018 with Tulsa (34 games).

In last night’s game, Baker got off to a rough start but hung tough to avoid a complete meltdown. The bad news was that he gave up four hits to the first five batters and quickly trailed 2-0. The good news is he hung tough and retired eight of the next 10 batters in a 51-pitch, three-inning effort.

The life of a minor-league pitcher is not for the faint of heart.

He started the season in an independent pro league before he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds organization to get back in affiliated ball for the first time since 2018.

The 29-year-old rocket right-hander was a fifth-round MLB draft pick in 2012 by the Cleveland Guardians.

He has bounced around the minor leagues, making it as high as Double-A three times. Only 12 Alaskans have made it to the Double-A level, including eight pitchers.

Among those eight guys, Baker ranks third in games (56), fourth in innings (67.2) and sixth in strikeouts (47) at the Double-A level. He recently passed Joey Newby (64.2) and Corey Madden (63.2) on the innings list.

Baker’s eight saves with Tulsa in 2018 rank No. 3 on Alaska’s all-time single season list, trailing only Juneau’s Chad Bentz (16 saves for Harrisburg Senators in 2003) and Soldotna’s Chris Mabeus (11 saves for Midland RockHounds in 2004).