"He's a big strong kid that we have to watch," Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson told the Associated Press in August 1989. "If he keeps his head on his shoulders, and he seems to, he's going to be quite a pitcher."
Ritz would eventually become quite a pitcher, for a couple brief seasons, but not for some time and not for the Tigers.
Taken in the fourth round of the 1985 draft, Ritz made AA Glens Falls in 1987 and AAA Toledo in 1989. He got the call-up to Detroit that July. Ritz' hot 3-1 start would give way to more rookie-like numbers. His first season ended at 4-6, getting his fourth and final win Sept. 5. He also posted a total 4.38 ERA.
That Sept. 5 win would be his final for 1989 and his final major league win until 1992. In stints with the big club in 1990 and 1991, Ritz started nine games, going 0-7 with an ERA over 11.00. Adding in his final games from 1989 and Ritz' streak was 0-11 with a 11.23 ERA.
Ritz ended 1992 with a 2-5 record and a 5.60 ERA. But it wasn't enough for the Tigers to protect him in that November's expansion draft. The Rockies selected him 46th.
With the Rockies, Ritz had five wins in 1994, but 11 with 11 losses in 1995. Building on that year, Ritz broke out with a 17-11 record for 1996. The Rockies rewarded Ritz with a two-year contract worth $3 million a year.
But shoulder problems caught up with him. He underwent surgery in July 1997. He returned for two games in May 1998, but underwent surgery again in June 1998 and his playing career was done.
In 2008, MLB.com caught up with Ritz at home in Ohio. He was then serving as a full-time dad.
"I pretty much just follow the kids around all the summer sports," Ritz told the site.
- Ludington Daily News, Associated Press, Aug. 9, 1989: Rookie Ritz has live arm
- Wilmington Star News, wire, June 7, 1992: Tigers get the Ritz
- MLB.com, Aug. 27, 2008: Where are they now? Kevin Ritz
Cards Reviewed: 132/880 - 15.0%
Made the Majors: 87 - 66%
Never Made the Majors: 45 - 34%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 35
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 46