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Monday, July 24, 2023

Rick Balabon made first round, AAA: Baseball Profiles

Rick Balabon 1990 Peninsula Pilots card

Rick Balabon entered baseball as a first-round pick. Three years in, he'd briefly made AA, but also battled injuries and illness, The Philadelphia Daily News wrote in September 1987.

He tried to put his situation into perspective to The Daily News.

"There are no gifts in baseball," Balabon told The Daily News. "You get what you get. In three years of pro ball, I haven't done squat. People say, 'You're a first-round pick. You're supposed to move up.' I don't deserve to, and I'll be the first one to admit that."

Balabon eventually saw seven pro seasons. He never the made the majors. He topped out at AAA.

Balabon's career began in 1985, taken by the Yankees 28th overall out of Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania. 

Balabon started with the Yankees at short-season Oneonta. He went 5-2, with a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts. That next spring, he spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer about his progress.

"This is a really critical year for me," Balabon told The Inquirer. "If I can make it to Albany and I stay healthy and put some stats on the board, I think I'll be in good shape. But it's hard to say. There's a lot of guys down here who, in my opinion, can play in the majors."

Balabon played 1986 between single-A Fort Lauderdale and Oneonta. He went 8-10 between them, with a 4.76 ERA. But he also contracted mononucleosis, which impacted that season and coming campaigns and impacted his fastball, The San Bernardino County Sun wrote later.

He made AA Albany-Colonie for a start in 1987, and saw 11 others at single-A Prince William.

He then moved to the Mariners system mid-1988 at single-A San Bernardino. He returned to San Bernardino for 1989 and saw four starts at AA Williamsport. 

He played 1990 between Williamsport and high-A Peninsula. Early that year, he spoke with The Inquirer about his setbacks to that point.

"I feel so good right now that I can't wait for spring training," Balabon told The Inquirer then. "I really feel the Mariners are going to be shocked when they see me pitch again."

Balabon went 10-8 that year between Peninsula and Williamsport. That June at Peninsula, he also threw a seven-inning no-hitter, on the same night as the Mariners held a "no-hitter night" in Seattle. 

Balabon made it up to AAA Calgary for 17 outings, 15 starts in 1991. He went 6-6, with a 6.41 ERA. That year proved his last as a pro.

Rick Balabon 1990 Peninsula Pilots card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,193
Made the Majors:1,378-32.9%
Never Made Majors:2,815-67.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:560
10+ Seasons in the Minors:344

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