Chase Ingram’s last two starts are brutal.
- May 28 — West Virginia Power. The Columbia Fireflies starter gives up 6 runs on 10 hits. His 3.51 ERA jumps to 4.40.
- June 3 — Hagerstown Suns. Five runs on nine hits and he only pitches 3 1/3 innings-his fewest innings of the season. His 4.40 ERA climbs to 5.03.
That’s when the coaches call the meeting.
* * *
It’s been three years since Ingram was a senior at Wesley Chapel High in Florida.
Three years since the 6-foot-4, 205 pounder, went 9-2 with a 1.06 ERA and 116 strikeouts.
But Ingram has little to no interest in pitching in college or professionally, according to a June 2015 Tampa Bay Times article. That’s because he doesn’t think his fastball is hot enough, only 89 mph.
But he goes to Hillsborough Community College anyway, gets on a good strength workout and pushes his fastball up to 91-93 mph, according to the Tampa Bay Times article.
Ingram has an impressive 2015 season: 11-1 with a 1.88 ERA.
Then the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Draft comes and the New York Mets use their 179th pick to take Ingram.
And ten starts into Ingram’s 2016 season with the Fireflies, his manager sits him down for a meeting.
The meeting with the manager, the pitching coach, the catcher shakes Chase Ingram.
He’s got to climb out of his funk because he knows “he’s here for a reason.”
Manager Jose Leger has his reasoning for his starting pitcher’s recent struggles.
“He’s jumping a level, he’s coming from Kingsport that’s our Appalachian league level — and he jumped our Brooklyn level, which is our short season team and he came straight here and sometimes they try to get a feel for what they know how to do.”
Ingram finds himself in unfamiliar territory — he’s never had this type of pitching struggle before.
His manager feels Ingram “has to put his struggles behind himself, trust his stuff and himself, and know that he’s here for a reason.”
He only has one option — he has to succeed.
Ingram takes the mound six days later.
- June 9 — West Virginia Power. One run on four hits. His ERA declines from 5.03 to 4.64.
- June 15 — Rome Braves. One run on two hits and he pitches 7 2/3 innings his most of the season. His ERA decreases from 4.64 to 4.21.
After Ingram’s start versus Rome, his manager says: “I guess he took it really well. I am happy for him that he can take it into the game because he pitched a really good game tonight and a really good game the day before … he has a good arm and he can throw three good pitches for strikes.”