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Saturday, January 6, 2024

Hipolito Pichardo threw gem as rookie, saw decade in bigs

Hipolito Pichardo 1990 Baseball City Royals card

Barely three months into his big league career in 1992, Hipolito Pichardo threw a gem.

He set down 27 of the 28 batters he faced, only giving up a sixth-inning double, The Kansas City Star wrote.

"Every pitch tonight was good: fastball, little cutter, slider, change-up, split-finger," Pichardo told The Star through an interpreter afterward.

Pichardo went on to use his pitches in the major leagues over a decade, including seven seasons with the Royals and two with the Red Sox. 

Pichardo's career began in 1988, signed by the Royals as an undrafted free agent out of his native Domincan Republic.

Pichardo started with the Royals in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He made single-A Appleton in 1989, high-A Baseball City in 1990 and AA Memphis in 1991.

He made Kansas City in 1992. He saw 31 outings, 24 starts and went 9-6, with a 3.95 ERA.

"He may have the best stuff on the staff," Royals pitching coach Guy Hansen told The Star that June. "He's got a terrific forkball, a good hard slider, and his fastball moves as well as anyone's."

Pichardo returned to Kansas City for 1993 and each year through 1998. In four of those seasons, he turned fulltime reliever. He saved 11 games in 1997.

Pichardo preserved a lead for the save in a May 1998 game, getting Juan Gonzalez to pop out, The Associated Press wrote.

"It was a difficult situation for a pitcher," Pichardo told The AP afterward. "He's a very good hitter."

Pichardo lost 1999 to injury, but returned with the Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, relieving in 38 and 30 games. He played his final big league game with the Astros in 2002.

Hipolito Pichardo 1990 Baseball City Royals card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,287
Made the Majors:1,392-32.5%-X
Never Made Majors:2,895-67.5%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:567-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:347

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