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Former Twins farmhand Jesse Crain made history on Friday night, winning his 11th consecutive game in relief to start his career. Crain, who many believe will be on the American League All-Star Team, has been terrific in his first full season in the Major Leagues.
The right-hander, who will turn 24 on Tuesday, has an 8-0 record this season to go along with a 1.41 ERA. His eight wins are a team-high and his 1.41 ERA is a team best as well. Crain also leads the team in appearances with 38.
After being named Colorado Baseball Player of the Year in high school, Crain went on to Jacinto (TX) Junior College where he was an All-Conference shortstop. He then transferred to the University of Houston where he was again named All-Conference for his play at shortstop and his work out of the pen.
Named a First Team All-American by Baseball America and Baseball Weekly, Crain was then selected in the second round of the 2002 June Draft by the Minnesota Twins. Not sure of whether to be a pitcher or a middle infielder, the Twins decided his best route would be as a bullpen guy. Crain flourished in his first year as just a pitcher, working his way all the way up to Class AA.
Crain was fast tracked through the Minor Leagues where he won numerous awards. He tore through Class AAA ball, with his fastball being called the best in the International League. In a half-year at Rochester, Crain notched 19 saves and had an ERA of 2.49 before being called up to The Show.
Crain made his professional debut on August 5, 2004 and has been a mainstay in the bullpen ever since. That September, Crain worked ten straight games without allowing a run, as the Twins made their playoff push. His fastball has been known to reach 100 MPH and he is consistantly in the 92-98 range.
It is not often that a middle reliever gets an All-Star nod, especially one with minimal notoriety. But for Crain, who has always bucked the trends, a selection is probably in order. With the selections to be completed on Sunday, look for Jesse Crain to be representing the Minnesota Twins in the 2005 All-Star Game.