Name: Jesse Ingram
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: April 27, 1982
Jesse Ingram's 2007 season was intriguing, to say the least. Working as Double-A Frisco's closer, Ingram went 26-for-27 in save opportunities, but sported a relatively high ERA at 4.21. At the time of the Texas League All-Star break, Ingram was 15-for-15 in saves despite a 5.70 earned run average.
Even more, Ingram surrendered only 43 hits in 62 innings, leading to an opponent batting average of .191. The righty also had an exceptional strikeout rate, as he fanned 70 batters in 62 innings. Still, Ingram finished with an ERA of 4.21.
Judging by the peripherals, it would seem that Ingram was a tad unlucky in 2007. The reliever says he was still able to succeed by keeping a short memory.
"It's always on your mind, especially when you're giving up weird runs and can't seem to figure out how it's happening," said Ingram in October. "You're human. You can call it a freak incident all you want, but it's happening. You can't take away the runs or the numbers. Everyone does [think about it], it's just how well you can erase it each outing."
One of the reasons for Ingram's ERA last season was his home runs allowed. The California native surrendered 10 home runs in 62 total innings. He allowed five home runs after the All-Star break despite permitting just seven total runs in that span.
Keeping with the theme of oddities, five of Ingram's six earned runs allowed in the second-half came on leadoff home runs. Ingram believes that his reputation as an aggressive pitcher was partly to blame.
"It's no secret that I come in and attack a hitter," he said. "I think that's one of my strengths and also, depending on the hitter, it can be one of my weaknesses. I'm always pretty much in or around the strike zone. I think that's what I'm known for."
The 25-year-old says he isn't about to let a few home runs change the aggressive style that has gotten him this far.
"I think they were bad pitches," said Ingram of the leadoff home runs. "They tail back in. I don't think it was a thing where you come in and you're just trying to get a feel for the inning. I feel I'm usually very much ready to go by the first pitch. I had every intention of making a good first pitch, but whether it happened or not is intentions versus the way it actually turns out. The goal of the pitch was good, but the execution was poor. It didn't change the way I attack a hitter."
Statistics and leadoff home runs aside, Ingram also spent some time working on his changeup during the '07 campaign. Though the right-hander has always used a changeup, he has had difficulty finding a comfortable grip. The righty believes he was able to make progress last year, but he says it will always be his third pitch.
"It was probably the most effective grip I've found," said Ingram of his changeup. "It was just one of those things where it's still my third pitch. Even on the best days I was throwing it, I was still much more confident in my slider and my fastball. But it definitely gave me more options to a lefty."
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Ingram will flash three pitches, but he generally works off his fastball and slider. Though he is a late-inning reliever with a consistently strong strikeout rate, Ingram does not possess an overpowering fastball. The California native's fastball generally sits in the 89-91 MPH range, occasionally topping out at 93. Ingram is an aggressive pitcher and is not afraid to attack hitters with his fastball, especially early in the count. He also works with a slurve-like slider, which is an above-average pitch. Ingram spent some time improving his changeup last season, but it will likely always be his third offering.
Projection: It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Ingram projects in a big league bullpen, but he will probably wind up as a middle reliever. The 25-year-old has spent the last two seasons as a closer, but he likely does not have the overpowering stuff that is generally required to work at the back end of a big league bullpen. That is not to say that Ingram cannot be a successful pitcher at the next level, however. With a good fastball, slider combination, aggressiveness, and solid control, Ingram should be able to contribute as a middle reliever.
2008 Outlook: Because he turns 26-years-old in April and has made 71 Double-A appearances over the last two seasons, it is fairly safe to say that Ingram will begin his 2008 season at Triple-A Oklahoma. He would be considered the early frontrunner to work as the Redhawks' closer in '08, though a lot can happen between now and the beginning of the season. Depending on his Triple-A results, Ingram should get his first taste of the major leagues at some point next year.